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  • This retelling of the death of young Kennedy entourage "Boiler Room" secretary Mary Jo Kopechne and the involvement therein (or lack of same, arguably) of rising US senator and last surviving brother of the Kennedy family dynasty, Edward Kennedy, holds back little as it nails its accusatory colours to the mast.

    I re-read as much background as I could on the tragic incident and it's difficult not to come to the same conclusion as the writer and director of this movie, that Kennedy firstly failed to attempt to rescue the stricken girl immediately after he escaped the sinking car, then got two of his slavishly obedient underlings to repeatedly dive into the river to try to save the girl, didn't report the matter immediately to the authorities where we learn that if he had, Mary Jo might even have made it out alive, before most shamefully of all, he played down and indeed lied about his role in the matter to go along with the abhorrent advice of the supporting Kennedy machine, a phalanx of important Democrats, including former Secretary of State Robert MacNamara, to cover up his part and so keep alive his future eligibility for the presidency.

    As usual in dramatisations of real life happenings, some dramatic licence appears to be taken with events. For example was Ted Kennedy really so scared of his elderly, paralysed father, the family patriarch Joseph (played by an unrecognisable Bruce Dern) and so ashamed of himself as the underperforming last son of the family to justify acting in this deplorable spineless way? Then, was there anything sexual between Kennedy and Kopechne on the night - there are cryptic but inconclusive flashbacks shown hinting at something and Kennedy, whose wife hadn't made the trip, was a known womaniser. Did he really contemplate resigning the Senate right up to the last minute before caving into the surrounding peer pressure and instead turn his live TV broadcast into the contemptible self-serving speech it turned out to be, including his horrendous assertion that this was the infamous "Kennedy Curse" working on him - this just in Senator Kennedy, you didn't die, Miss Kopechne did - and in so saying, trying to bathe in the reflected glory of his two slain brothers? I also thought it was a major mistake to fail to mention the substantial payment that was made to the dead girl's parents, presumably to hush them up.

    Only one person knows what happened on that fateful night and I concur with the film-makers' assertion here that Kennedy not only acted in a selfish, cowardly way at the scene - he even tried to weasel out of this by faking a medical report that he was concussed in the crash which affected his actions and then compounded the felony by "wearing" a neck brace for effect at the funeral.

    This as I said is a brave film, justifiably, I believe, taking a side and having the courage of its convictions to stick to it. Jason Clarke is excellent as Kennedy while the rest of the lesser known cast give him credible support. The direction could have done with less of the voguish drone shots which seemed at odds with the realistic approach adopted elsewhere plus I found the soundtrack dull and again lacking affinity with the era portrayed.

    I doubt this film will gain wide distribution but hope it does. It's an excellent drama, the tragedy of which is how realistically it depicted a tragically avoidable real life accident.
  • Growing up in the 60's, and a fan of JFK, I recall reading about this event as an unfortunate driving accident involving Kennedy's younger brother Ted and his secretary Mary Jo, who had been drinking at a party, and were probably having an affair. Seeing this movie, I can't help but think it should have been made a long time ago, as so much is revealed about what really happened. But, I still think this is an important film for my generation and younger people who tend to hero worship without uncovering the tragic flaws. It's also a dramatic eye-opener about the political machinations used to retain power. The actors are good, the story is compelling, but more time spent on Ted before and after would have made it better. And I came away sad about Mary Jo and her family in view of her dedication to a worthy cause.
  • Better late than never that the true story of the Chappaquidick coverup gets major attention. For the Kennedys, laws and rules were always for the little people. I'm of a generation old enough to remember Chappaquidick. It's good that the younger crowd gets to see how the Kennedys operate. Disgusting how Ted, backed by his army of fixers and p.r. hacks, portrays himself and his family as victims, when he was responsible for a young girl's death. My only complaint about the movie is that it's too kind to him, leaning on the "dad made me do it" and the myth of Kennedy family devotion to "public service." As a resident of Massachusetts I am ashamed that after this miscarriage of justice the voters of this state re-elected this execrable miscreant. By the way it's been reported that "powerful people" tried to stop the release of this movie.
  • The movie is well made, moves a little slowly but is compelling due to it's subject. The actors do a superb job. Even Ed Helms and Jim Gaffigan manage to make you forget who they are.

    Kennedy and his handlers do not come off well, of course. It's a not a documentary and I do not trust Hollywood or the media to portray anyone historical character completely accurately.

    For me, there are 2 take aways from the movie:

    1. This was a sincere young lady whose life was cut much too short. It was difficult for me to watch her on screen knowing what was about to happen to her. She deserved better. Sadly, she is a footnote in history. We should refer to it as the Mary Jo Kopechne scandal, not Chappaquidick.

    2. The end of the film featured "person on the street" interviews from 1969. It was amazing to listen to the ones who dismissed his short-comings and continued to support him. Seeing those interviews in the Trump era makes for an interesting perspective. Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton or Donald Trump, the American voter on both sides of the aisle will look past a man's sins if they think that person will advance their political agenda. The opposite is also true: People will mercilessly and unflinchingly condemn a person for his shortcomings if they don't agree politically. This was true during the 2016 election cycle. It was never about Hillary or Trump's demons, it was always politics. Until that is understood, people will never get why Trump has support.

    The biggest unanswered question for me is: how did Kennedy get out of the car. If the doors were jammed shut and the windows unbroken, which kept anyone from getting Mary Jo out of the car, then how did he get out?
  • For those that grew up with the Kennedys, and anyone that didn't (ie, everyone) this story needs to be told. I think the movie was done well - acting and production - but that is not the purpose of the movie.

    I knew a lot of what happened from reading over the years. But - this was an amazing portrayal, and accessible to the story for those less interested in politics.

    The bottom line? At least Ted, (and if you know the history - his father) were very compromised people. They would, in the end, do anything for power no matter who got in their way. (And as the movie shows, there were always people that would work for them, or vote for them, and dismiss the truth that they knew about them.) From all things that have come out - John and Bobby had great similarities (especially with women).

    I hope younger people look at this. Ted's faults were his own demons to a great degree - and these were portrayed very well. I would say what we have seen in the last few years is even more damaging to us, and more corrupt. And - if it takes a movie just to say - that people in politics ARE that dirty and DO lie that much - it will be useful for our country.

    Nuff said.
  • 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.
  • This film disappoints. I remember the event quite well and most of the true happenings were covered up and this movie does nothing to add to the truth.

    We will never know the complete truth, but money talks and happened in the cover up, but this was not even included in this film. It appears that even 50 odd years later, it is still impossible to get the whole truth, so the Kennedy power still reigns.

    A sad day. I feel this movie should not have been released as the speculation will continue, yet a person lost her life and the culprit got away with it.
  • GRADE: B+


    IN BRIEF: An riveting factual retelling of a political scandal and cover-up that changed the life of one man and a nation. JIM'S REVIEW: One man remained above the law. One nation watched in shock and disbelief as the event unfolded. One woman dead. Such is the scandal and cover-up of Senator Edward "Teddy" Kennedy and his ill-fated accident that changed his life and took the life of campaign worker, Mary Jo Kopechine. Chappaquiddick, John Curran's fine retelling of true events shows those days in 1969 when the young inebriated senator made that dire mistake, driving off a bridge and leaving a friend to slowly drown in a slightly submerged car. His decision lacked courage and integrity which cost him a political future to become America's once and future president. But our nation does love the rise and fall of the rich and famous...and their ultimate comeback.

    Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan create a timeline that shows the unscrupulous damage control crafted by powerful men to protect their own, with little regard for the true victim. The script focuses on six days, from the fatal crash to the senator's televised plea to a country to forgive him his trespasses, ending in actual footage from real people who commented most positively on his "forced" confession. To the film's credit, it does not shy away from Kennedy's caddish behavior, the numerous illegal acts, and exposes the "spin" (which is ever prevalent today, while being a rarity back then). Their narrative could use more backstory to give more substance to the possible relationship of the politician and his victim. It only hints at that aspect and is a tad unjust to Ms. Kopechine's character by making her an incomplete pawn rather than a fully dimensional character. Kate Mara plays her very well and one wishes more screen time was spent in flashbacks about her character and motives.

    However, the majority of the film is a showcase for Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy. It is an excellent performance of a troubled and desperate man at terms with his own weaknesses. Mr. Clarke is a forceful presence and fully captures the Massachusetts senator's persona. (It is deserving of an Oscar nomination, although it will surely be forgotten due to the film's early release.) Also giving excellent support are Ed Helms as his close ally and conscience, Joe Gargan, Clancy Brown as Robert MacNamara, Taylor Nichols as Ted Sorensen, and Bruce Dern as the cruel patriarch, Joseph Kennedy. (The scene between father and son is brutal to watch, and Mr. Dern conveys his disappointment and personal disgust with barely a word as Mr. Clarke searches for any ounce of compassion and tenderness.) Rounding out the strong ensemble are Jim Gaffigan and Olivia Thirlby.

    Mr. Curran directs with a solid vision and effectively jumps back to the incident to remind his audience of the tragedy of a human life cut short countering with the political mechanisms of a political life saved at all cost. That Senator Kennedy went on to continue a healthy career and eluded any jail time, never being convicted of manslaughter seems an odd turn of events in this enthralling and disturbing drama. But truth is stranger than fiction and Chappaquiddick is an honest depiction of dishonest times. It is a movie definitely worth viewing.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a tempered account which I understand is based on verifiable reports. Nothing was overdone, and the only thing that was underdone was a missed opportunity to do a film-stop on a photo of MJKopechne at some point in the film to remind us that a life was snuffed in this true tale. A miracle of life ended that evening. The movie tied in the dissonant events of the Lunar Landing that were taking place the very days Chappaquiddick events were occurring. By the film, almost everything that could have happened outside the control of the inner circle did happen. This events happened so fast there was little crowd control until the Ted Kennedy broadcast on Friday, 25 July, 1969.

    It is a reminder to voters of all stripes should hold our reps to higher standards, rather than the current race to the bottom.
  • Powerful and corrupt politicians, cops and judges all backed up Teddy's involvement and instead of manslaughter charges, he became the Lion of the Senate. This movie is superb and doesnt condemn or vilify the late Senator. Rather, it illustrates what people, like me, who lived through the time period believed: that Teddy successfully used his family connections to get special treatment from the criminal justice system. It also portrays the Kopchene as regular, trusting people who had no choice but to believe, or at least pretend to believe, the powerful Kennedys version of events. Go see it and form your own opinion.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The story of the movie is speculative and does not hold water. When Ted Kennedy drove Kopechne away from the party, the story becomes questionable. Even though Chappaquiddick uses Kennedy's testimonies from the time, it also proves an impossible story to tell 100 percent accurately as certain parts don't quite add up.

    The strangest aspect of Kopechne's death is the fact that it took Kennedy 10 hours to call the police after driving the car off the bridge. As both the movie and the historical record divulge, a passerby found the car in the morning and called the police. The diver who extracted Kopechne's body said in his testimony that he could have gotten the woman out of the car in 25 minutes following the crash had he been notified, which the movie also shows.

    Instead of calling the authorities, Ted Kennedy testified that he tried to get Kopechne out of the car himself until he determined that he couldn't and returned to the cottage where the party had been held. There, he got his cousin Joe Gargan (Ed Helms) and Gargan's friend, U.S. Attorney Paul Markham (Jim Gaffigan), who joined the senator in forming a plan. In Kennedy's testimony, he said that he swam back to his hotel - he originally testified that he had been driving himself and Kopechne to the ferry dock to return to their respective hotels in Edgartown on Martha's Vineyard. In the movie, however, Joe and Paul bring Kennedy back to Edgartown on a row boat, where he then changes his suit and calls his father, Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. This is all speculative. The Kennedy team fixing the story is also speculative.

    Even though Chappaquiddick fills audiences in on the 10 hours between the accident and the next day when Kennedy finally called the police, it still largely remains mysterious why the senator chose not to call first responders immediately. "Gargan and Markham not only failed to get immediate help, but also let the senator swim back alone to report the accident from Edgartown,"

    The movie also speculates that Kopechne could have been alive in the submerged car for a few hours following the crash. But nobody knows the truth of what happened to her. She could have been dead shortly after the accident.

    Many questions remain with no answers, many speculations with no evidence, and even though Chappaquiddick mostly accurately recounts the events of July 18, 1969 in Massachusetts, the only thing that audiences will walk out of the theater knowing for sure is that the exact events following the car crash will likely never be revealed.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Chappaquiddick" is a movie about the incident (not accident) that involved the death of Mary Jo Kopechne when he was with the late Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy in his mother's Oldmobile's car that crossed the bridge at Chappaquiddick Island on the night of July 18,1969. It stars Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy,Kate Mara as Mary Jo Kopechne,Bruce Helms as Joseph Gargan and Bruce Dern as the patriarch of the Kennedy clan, Joseph Kennedy Sr. This film directed by Jason Curran features the event that happened from the time the former female staffers of Robert Kennedy a.k.a RFK leading to the aftermath of Ted's actions after he and Mary Jo had a car accident. It tells the actions and inactions of Ted from not reporting the incident to the police and how the Kennedy family henchmen tried to rectify the situation considering that Ted Kennedy is on his way to becoming the next President of the United States with the political success that he has achieved before it happened.

    I must admit that I was expecting more of a no-holds barred account of the event like how Joe Kennedy Sr. rectified the situation by paying many people to cover up for Ted that included the police authorities that led them to inactions like not performing an autopsy on Mary Jo.Added to that,it also did not feature other events like how Joe Sr. paid the Kopechne family a humongous amount of money - $130,000 - back in 1969(now equivalent to $600,000 in 2018) as a form of "settlement" to keep their mouth shut. These are seen and found in many books and documentaries made back in the 70's,80's and 90's about the incident.Unfortunately,none of these were shown in the movie.I believe the producers definitely had to play the "safe side" as they are telling a story of a Kennedy and the clan have remained powerful and influential throughout the years until today as I am writing this review who could sue the filmmakers anytime of the day.

    Nevertheless,I still saw a good movie considering that it clearly showed how "imperfect" the actions of Ted Kennedy were especially during the aftermath of the incident. Jason Clarke did well as Ted Kennedy. Added to that, it was nice to see that the movie gave a good characterization of Mary Jo Kopechne despite Kate Mara's limited screen time storywise.

    As for the film staying on the "safe side", they did it through letting the viewers think and decide for themselves on the events that occurred at Chappaquiddick by presenting numerous scenes like 6 married men and 6 unmarried RFK female staffers on a party despite the fact that RFK has already passed away to show what was truly going on between Ted and Mary Jo. It also showed their scenes together that both do know each other very well that they can confide their feelings with one another. Added to that, they also showed how many times Joe Sr. told Ted the word "alibi" when the latter was telling the incident to his dad despite not showing anything that I previously stated in the movie. The viewer has to really watch this closely and think clearly and probably read books and watch documentaries regarding the subject matter to learn more about it for this movie won't provide all the explanations needed. But nevertheless, I still found it a good introduction for people wanting to learn more about it despite the fact that this happened 50 years ago and the characters involved in it have already passed away.
  • Chappaquiddick is something that means anything to any American over the age of 55. Or else this is an interesting, little-remembered but not forgotten incident from the political history of the United States back in the sixth decade of the 20th century that has interest for college students of American History or Political Science. Chappaquiddick marked the practical end of the Kennedy family political dynasty that was marked by the tragic assassinations of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 in Dallas, Texas, and in 1968 that of his younger brother, the aspiring Presidential candidate, Robert Kennedy, the former, formidable U.S. Attorney General. Robert Kennedy enjoyed such a tremendous margin of popular support that his election as next U.S. president in November 1968 was considered a sure-thing, a shoo-in. It wasn't even considered necessary that Robert Kennedy even bother to campaign but campaign he did and was assassinated in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles in the summer of 1968. This is one of those seminal events that U.S. historians call a change in the course of history of the nation. It led to a change of American history in the November election of Republican Richard Nixon instead of the expected President Robert Kennedy. The Democrat Party and the Democrat sympathetic national mass media, Hollywood, national celebrities, et al, desperately looked to Ted Kennedy to carry on the Kennedy tradition, romanticized as, American Camelot, and become the de facto President Robert Kennedy that should have been. Their faith and trust proved misplaced. Ted Kennedy was not of the right stuff his elder brothers had been, leading credence to the family rumors that Ted was the family black sheep. Ted Kennedy avoided legal liability for breaking the law of leaving the site of an accident that he was directly involved in and also not contacting the authorities immediately after an accident. The American people were treated first hand to the reality of how family political power and wealth can cirmumvent legal justice. They would not witness something similar until the criminal trial of OJ Simpson almost three decades later. Yet in the ensuing decades, Ted Kennedy not only avoided political oblivion but succeeded beyond all imagination of becoming one of the most powerful U.S. senators in Congress. Ted appeased everyone by embracing any and all liberal causes and with the Kennedy family name and still formidable political power and wealth became an unbeatable U.S. senator that could never be realistically challenged by any fellow Massachusetts Democrat let alone any Republican foolhardy enough to try. Ted Kennedy became above all political reproach in Massachusetts as a congressional senator and only his death ended his political career once and for all. Yet the incident of Chappaquiddick would stain Ted forever and preclude any hope of attaining the U.S. presidency, which many regarded a good thing as any U.S. president must be a man or woman with unquestionable personal courage, judgment under stress, and appropriate judgment. After senator Ted Kennedy's death in 2010, Republican Scott Brown successfully campaigned to take Kennedy's vacated senate seat for the last two years of the late senator's term. During the abbreviated senatorial campaign, Scott Brown felt it necessary to lionize Ted Kennedy in all his campaign speeches to avoid antagonizing Massachusetts voters. Chappaquiddick the movie will prove how unnecessary it was Scott Brown to do so. Ted Kennedy was the last man to deserve it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Chappaquiddick" (PG-13, 1:47): This biopic presents a mostly unflattering, but sympathetic picture of the late Senator Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) who, in the wake of the assassinations of his brothers, is intent on continuing their legacy, hoping to be elected president himself in 1972. His plans are derailed when he's involved in a deadly traffic accident in the titular town during the summer of 1969 - and tries, with the help of his aging father's cronies, to cover up the true nature of his involvement. As the youngest Kennedy brother struggles to balance the correct courses of action for his political career, his family and the accident victim (Kate Mara), he gets no shortage of advice from his paralyzed and frail, but overbearing father (Bruce Dern) and many others. Engaging, enlightening, and entertaining. "B+"
  • Following the tragic event, the screenplay was filled with far too much hackneyed, scripted sounding dialogue. Jason Clark and Ed Helms were good
  • I and a lady friend watched Chappaquiddick last night in a Santa Monica theater. We sat in our seats utterly transfixed as if witnessing, for the first time, a slow-motion reel of the Hindenburg disaster. Given the nature of Hollywood one expected heavy dollops of exculpatory 'nuance' but, astonishingly, the movie gives it to Ted Kennedy good and hard. He's depicted as none too bright and near-psychopathic in his self-absorption. A burgeoning alcohol problem is evident.

    The Australian actor, Jason Clarke, in addition to resembling Kennedy, offers a convincing incarnation even as his Boston brogue tunes in and out. With a single exception, the members of Kennedy's faithful 'brain trust' come off as genuinely frightening with their calculating and morality-free counsel.

    Questions remain. Was Kennedy having an affair with Mary Jo Kopechne, one of the "Boiler Room Girls"? Did the two enjoy, on that warm summer evening, a sexual dalliance prior to arriving at the bridge? Kennedy's account of the timeline was found to be full of contradictions and Kopechne's body was retrieved minus her underwear. It was quickly cremated, advantage Team Kennedy. The film's depiction of her as a lovely, classy young woman full of promise may or may not be mythical. We'll never know. John Farrar was the captain of the Edgartown Fire Rescue unit and the diver who recovered Kopechne's body. He reported:

    It looked as if she were holding herself up to get a last breath of air. It was a consciously assumed position.... She didn't drown. She died of suffocation in her own air void. It took her at least three or four hours to die. I could have had her out of that car twenty-five minutes after I got the call. But he (Ted Kennedy} didn't call.

    The senator didn't report the fatal car accident for 10 hours. But he got a lucky break. On the evening of July 18, 1969, most Americans were home absorbed watching television reports on the progress of the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission.

    The Kennedys are/were the ultimate Teflon political dynasty.Are we permitted to speculate if the driver had been a Republican politico or a scion of the Bush family? According to the Camelot script, Kennedy was to run for President while the loyal knights of the realm would drop everything and rally to the last, unmartyred brother. He tried but failed, never fully recovering from that incident on the bridge. But his loyal Massachusetts constituents sent him back to the Senate six times.

    Byron Allen, the mogul whose company released the film, hinted that several Kennedy allies sought to deep-six the project.

    "Unfortunately, there are some very powerful people who tried to put pressure on me not to release this movie. They went out of their way to try and influence me in a negative way. I made it very clear that I'm not about the Right, I'm not about the Left. I'm about the truth."
  • valarik56419 April 2018
    Finding the right words to describe my experience with this movie is difficult. It isn't a bad movie, but it suffers from, for want of a better phrase, almost an unwitting weightlessness. It's an odd thing to say considering the topic of the movie, but it genuinely felt, not so much monotone as playing against the line of atonal.

    Ed Helms did a fantastic job, and plays the only character that I felt had any depth and humanity. I would love to say that this was the point, that the movie intended to highlight the sociopathic dissection and handling of this scandal, but it misses the mark of giving the story that kind of weight. There isn't enough of an exploration of the polarity between Helms and everyone else, just a series of one off exhibitions of it, each of which then naturally falls flat. No disrespect to Jim Gaffigan, but his character was more or less irrelevant. He did absolutely nothing the entire time, had minimal dialogue, and went along with whatever was happening with as little a sense of existence as possible while still being one of the most seen characters in the film.

    I wouldn't recommend investing in seeing this movie, as much as I hate to say something like that. I saw it in theaters with a movie pass ticket, going in with the mindset "eh, why not?", and that seems about the best way to experience it. The actors all did a great job, and the script seemed perfectly fine, but the direction did not give enough definition or weight to the story.
  • jostannie5 August 2018
    A film portraying another welcome nail in the Kennedy dynasty coffin. That evil family deserved all it got. You reap what you sow and they sowed plenty.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Released 48 years after the events it depicts, 'Chappaquiddick' (2017) will not garner a audience much beyond Baby Boomers now in their 60s and 70s who remember Ted Kennedy's scandalous downfall in the summer of 1969. Bruce Dern is great as stroke-paralyzed Joe Kennedy but the film has him speaking and writing--activities he incapable of after 1962. Jason Clarke kind of looks like Ted and is good in the lead role but the film remains vaguely unsatisfying, probably because it can't or won't answer questions about the incident that still remain utterly baffling. How did Kennedy get out of the submerged vehicle? Did he really try to save Mary Jo Kopechne, as he claimed he did? Why the hell did he wait 8 or 9 hours to report the accident? Authorities later estimated that Mary Jo remained alive in an air pocket for perhaps two hours before drowning--ample time to be rescued if Ted has sought help immediately. One can only imagine what she was going through, trapped in that car in those agonizingly long and desperate moments (the film glosses over this hideous reality a bit too quickly). One thing that does come through in the movie is Ted Kennedy's enormous and almost instinctual sense of entitlement--a taken-for-granted asset of the rich, famous, and powerful that is really an enormous liability, at least in Ted's case, because it renders him an abject fool and a pitiable coward. Some commentators have accused the film of being an anti-Liberal hit piece. I don't think so. In the final analysis, 'Chappaquiddick' is a parable about the existential rot that accrues around social class privilege, political affiliation notwithstanding. Because he was a Kennedy, Ted was slapped on the wrist with just two months probation for what should have been deemed vehicular manslaughter (had he been an ordinary working-class shmoe, Ted would likely have served time in prison). Yes, he was forgiven by Massachusetts voters and served another 40 years in the Senate, but Ted Kennedy will always be known as "The Chappaquiddick Kid": a far cry from his brother, Jack, who performed well in a crisis at sea. The film's best line is uttered by Andria Blackman, who plays Ted's long-suffering wife, Joan. On the way to Mary Jo's funeral, Ted thanks her for sticking by him. But Joan isn't in the mood for Ted's smarminess. She retorts, "Go f**k yourself!"--a sentiment probably approved by most viewers.
  • I was eleven years old when this tragedy occurred. Even at that tender age, when I saw Teddy wearing that ridiculous neck brace on TV, I knew someone was cooking the story behind the curtain. So, finally someone has gathered up the courage to tell it like it really was and not offer up some whitewashed sterile version concocted as pablum for the fawning media. Can we please now have a real account of the tragic story of PT109 captained by Jack Kennedy during WWII? The original film launched the political career of a future president by propping him up as a national hero, when in fact he was known to be a foolhardy risk taker putting his crew in danger just to get into combat situations that would elevate his mediocre reputation at the time. In my view the Kennedy boys (including John Jr.) had always been foolish and reckless with nary a regard to those unfortunate enough to be nearby and ending up as collateral damage.
  • Although the movie moves rather slow, they did tell the complete story that not many people knew of in its entirety. They did a very good job of trying to tell the story in its entirety without bias which is often hard on contriversial subjects.
  • My wife and I watched this at home on DVD from a Redbox rental. We both were young adults when the depicted events happened and as such enjoyed the visual story and depictions of what all transpired.

    The movie covers just one week in the life of Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, younger brother of assassinated President John F. Kennedy. The story is an irony of sorts, JFK may be best known for his early 1960s declaration that we would land on the moon before the end of the decade, and we did in July 1969, the same week that younger brother Ted was involved in the accident that resulted in his losing his chance to become President. Fame and shame for the Kennedy family in the same week in 1969.

    Jason Clarke is really effective as Ted Kennedy, portrayed as a somewhat spoiled man of a rich family, when he needed something done he expected others to do it for him, promptly. From my own perspective, as a citizen watching Ted Kennedy, I believe it was in the best interests of our country that he did not become president.

    Kate Mara is effective as Mary Jo Kopechne, although her role is rather brief. The filmmakers claim their research and input from those in the know resulted in a very accurate depiction of that week, and it comes across that way. A rather large political machine spinning the events in a way to reduce the political impact on Kennedy. A quick inquest and arraignment was followed by Kennedy pleading guilty to leaving the scene of an accident, he served no jail time, was on parole for a year, and was reelected as Senator.
  • This is the kind of movie they should be making but, in this bang-bang boom-boom era, they mostly aren't. It's about the character-defining choices that people make under pressure -- and not just Sen. Kennedy, but also the many people around him. Even the smallest characters are sharply defined. For example, the scene in which the undertaker has a difference of opinion with the medical examiner isn't over a minute long, but both characters make a memorable impression. There are many opportunities to wonder what you would have done in a given character's place. The film is not black and white at all.

    The story-telling keeps you hooked; even though I was around when the Chappaquiddick accident happened, I'd forgotten the details. And the script seems very scrupulous about sticking mostly to what is actually known. Obviously, the dialogues between Sen. Kennedy and those who were close to him, such as his father and his advisers, can only be imagined. Nevertheless, they seem consistent with the known facts and the known characters.

    My biggest criticism is that the leading actor's Boston accent randomly comes and goes (but mostly goes).
  • A part of the town of Edgartown, Massachusetts is a small island on the eastern end of Martha's Vineyard known as Chappaquiddick. On July 18, 1969, a 1967 Oldsmobile carrying U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy (Jason Clarke, "Mudbound"), then 36, and Kennedy staffer Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara, "Megan Leavey"), 28, plunged off the Dike Bridge in Chappaquiddick killing the young woman. Though Kennedy escaped, the tragedy forever ended his presidential ambitions. The accident and its surrounding events are dramatized in John Curran's Chappaquiddick, the first filmed version of the event. It is a strangely lifeless film, however, which halfheartedly struggles to present Kennedy in a sympathetic light, but ends up portraying a character that is weak and opportunistic.

    Written by Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan whose script relies on the historical record including the inquest into the accident, Australian actor Clarke plays Kennedy in a rather wooden manner, providing little hint of the Kennedy charm. To many, Ted Kennedy represented the hope that the idealism of his fallen brothers Jack and Bobby would be rekindled. The dream died in stages beginning with the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 1963 followed by that of his brother Bobby five years later.

    Unanswered questions surround all of these events, however, and what happened at Chappaquiddick is no clearer after watching the film. Some of the basic facts about the incident are these (some are still in dispute): The Senator, in Edgartown for the annual regatta he had missed the previous year because of Bobby's death, had just left a party for his brother Robert's former campaign staffers at a small cottage in Chappaquiddick to drive one of the so-called "boiler room girls," Mary Jo Kopechne, to catch the last ferry back to Edgartown. Though the Senator later claimed that she felt sick and asked to be driven to the ferry, the fact that she left her purse and her keys at the party may suggest that she intended to return. Drinking took place at the party, but whether the Senator was involved is uncertain.

    Though Kennedy said that he left the party at 11:15 p.m., a deputy sheriff reported seeing a car that matched Kennedy's with a man and a woman inside near the turn-off for the beach at 12:45 a.m. - an hour and a half after Kennedy said the accident had occurred. Ignoring signs pointing to the ferry, the car turned right onto a dirt road and went off the Dike Bridge (which had no guardrails) and plunged into the water killing Mary Jo, though the exact time and cause of her death is unknown since no autopsy was ever performed. Though urged by his cousin Joe Gargan (Ed Helms, "Vacation") and former U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts Paul Markham (Jim Gaffigan, "The Living Wake") to go to the police, Kennedy did not report the accident for ten hours after it occurred, though he had several opportunities to call along the way back to the cottage. Kennedy later claimed that he dove repeatedly "into the strong and murky current" to try and find Kopechne but to no avail. In his nationwide televised address, Kennedy suggested that a concussion played a role in warping his judgment. "I was overcome," he said, "I'm frank to say, by a jumble of emotions: Grief, fear, doubt, exhaustion, panic, confusion and shock."

    No doubt at his overbearing father's (Bruce Dern, "Nebraska") urging, Kennedy's inner circle of confidants met to offer some damage control, knowing that the Senator's political future was on the line. These associates included former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara (Clancy Brown, "Hail, Caesar!"), Kennedy speechwriter Ted Sorensen (Taylor Nichols, "Freeloaders"), and brother-in-law Steve Smith (Victor Warren, "My Daddy's in Heaven"). Determined to overcome his misfortune, Kennedy agreed to tell the truth (at least his version of the truth, as he so charmingly puts it) and ask the people of Massachusetts to weigh in on whether or not he should resign. The support he received from his constituents was overwhelming and he was easily reelected the following year.

    Though charges of involuntary manslaughter were possible, Kennedy was convicted only of leaving the scene of an accident, but the lasting political consequences far exceeded the legal. Despite what the film may suggest, many questions remain. We still have no idea of the exact nature of the relationship between the Senator and Mary Jo, whether or not Kennedy had been drinking when he got in the car, how he escaped from the sinking car, whether Mary Jo died of drowning or of suffocation, why she was found in the back seat of the car, why Kennedy waited ten hours before reporting the incident, and why his stories were so full of contradictions.

    Since there were no witnesses to the accident, the only person who knows the full truth was Kennedy and he died in 2009. We can still surmise, guess, and speculate which is basically what Curran and his writers do. Ultimately, Chappaquiddick is ambiguous, illuminating neither the truth behind the events on that summer night, nor the contradictions in Kennedy's character. What is clear, however, is that neither Kennedy, his political associates, his attorney, nor the Edgartown police emerged with their reputations unscathed, and even Kennedy's lifetime of service in the fight for a more just society would ever change that.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When I heard that a movie about the 1969 incident involving Senator Edward "Ted" Kennedy that led to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick Island on an alleged car accident,I was really excited to see this film as I think that a no-holds-barred film about it will be made. It stars Jason Clarke,Kate Marra,Bruce Helms, and Bruce Dern. This film directed by Jason Curran tells the story of how a former RFK female staffer Mary Jo Kopechne died through suffocation when a vehicular accident happened; how the henchmen of the Kennedy family led by Joe Gargan tried to remedy the situation; and the several poor actions and inactions of the late Senator Ted Kennedy during the aftermath of the accident. Although I give credit to the guts the movie had into showing how the Kennedy men tried rectify the situation, I felt that it just left more questions rather than answers to the people who are unfamiliar with the tragedy just like Senator Kennedy's speech on explaining the incident.

    No question that the filmmakers stayed on middle ground in trying to recreate the narrative of the events at Chappaquiddick. That was confirmed when the producer was interviewed by Ben Shapiro on his show.It was evident that it does not want to go deeper into the issue to avoid litigations that could come from the Kennedy family,whose clan have remained politically influential and powerful all through these years.

    The story just recaptured the narrative by telling a story from the time a party was hosted at Chappaquiddick by the Kennedys with a group of RFK female staffers that Mary Jo is part of until the final speech of Senator Kennedy explaining the incident to the American public. Too bad that it never got deeper into the issue and it just left more questions unanswered rather than giving the viewer the full story behind it.Nothing more. What's worse is that it tried to humanize Ted Kennedy as someone who could not live up to the family expectations that Joseph Jr.,who died on a plane crash during World War II; John,the former President of the United States; and Robert,who could have served President of the United States as well had he not been assassinated. This humanization is somewhat misleading considering that Ted is known to be an extremely confident person and who is headed to become the next President of the United States before the death of Mary Jo happened.And there are more questions there is too much ambiguity on the incident like the on-going friendship and relationship between Ted and Mary Jo as well as the existence of the RFK female staffers group after RFK has already been assassinated. But nevertheless, the movie tries to provide nuances about the event although it does not completely explain everything in a straight forward manner. I advise the viewer to completely think and analyze while watching this movie.

    But if there is something that I want to say what this movie was able to accomplish,it at least provided the viewer of a better understanding of Mary Jo Kopechne's character and that she was a woman with a bright future ahead of her as a political strategist. Despite her limited screen time, Kate Mara made her character interesting.It makes her an important character and not only someone who is associated in this Kennedy scandal. Added to that, the movie made both Kopechne and Kennedy equally important and not the latter alone. So despite the movie being just a recreation of an event that leaves many unanswered questions , I still gave this movie a high rating. To learn more about it, one probably has to read books and watch documentaries that have been made about the incident since the 70's as the movie just serves an introduction to the complete story that happened almost 50 years ago.
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