The story of Dick Cheney, an unassuming bureaucratic Washington insider, who quietly wielded immense power as Vice President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today.
The scandal and mysterious events surrounding the tragic drowning of a young woman, as Ted Kennedy drove his car off the infamous bridge, are revealed in the new movie starring Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy and Kate Mara as Mary Jo Kopechne. Not only did this event take the life of an aspiring political strategist and Kennedy insider, but it ultimately changed the course of presidential history forever. Through true accounts, documented in the inquest from the investigation in 1969, director John Curran and writers Andrew Logan and Taylor Allen, intimately expose the broad reach of political power, the influence of America's most celebrated family; and the vulnerability of Ted Kennedy, the youngest son, in the shadow of his family legacy.
The facts speak for themselves in this sober and sardonic telling of Senator Ted Kennedy's infamous late night car crash that drowned "Boiler Room Girl" staffer, Mary Jo Kopechne along with the subsequent cover up mostly stage managed by two of JFKs "best and brightest" Bob McNamara and Theo Sorenson. It is mostly a restrained telling as it displays less cynicism than pointing it out as the old gang huddles at the Hyannis Kennedy compound to plot and strategize for what they hope is a future President. Brother from another mother Joe Gargan attempts to get Ted to do the right thing but he is no match for the Realpolitik of Robert McNamara who is clearly running the interference, pulling strings and creating scenarios while local Sheriff Arena bungles his investigation, much of it in the favor of the Senator as a Kennedy flunky is dispatched to the deceased Ms Kopechne's parents to block access. It is a Humpty Dumpty make over and an unpleasant reminder of "justice" bought through power and influence in this democratic nation of ours.
There's an Oscar worthy performance to be found in tarnished angel's Ted played by Jason Clarke with a smarmy false bravado and unctuous cowardice while garnering great sympathy as he panics and leaves the girl to drown. Clearly the linch pin to the tragedy he is also responsible for some of the dark humor as says too much too soon, fails to re-new his license, comes up with far fetched attempts to elude blame and models a neck brace for effect before tussling on the floor with a fed up Gargan.
Kate Mara's Mary Joe rings with a mature and melancholy sincerity, her scenes with Ted tastefully handled, more concerned with revealing two people at uncertain moments in their life than a just a roll in the sand. Helms as Gargan suffers nobly and humiliatingly much by way of reaction. Bruce Dern as paralyzed dad Joe does as well but in a much more severe way while Clancy Brown's former Defense Secretary McNamara is take charge impressive in a room of heavyweights.
James Curran's direction is well paced and edited as he smoothly moves the investigation along amid the chaos of what's at stake as well as provide jarring flashbacks and allowing Mary-Jo in her own way provide brutal testimony to the audience. Overall the direction and writing (Taylor Allen, William Logan) is neither venally strident nor smugly damning as the film portrays the tragically flawed Kennedy, justifiably in some way, as a victim for being less than a great man in a circle that would not settle for anything but before once again finding himself out of his depth.
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