DIRECTORs: john curran (the painted veil, tracks, stone)
STARRING: jason clarke, ed helms, jim gaffigan, and kate mara
REVIEWER: Lyall carter
On July 18, 1969, Sen. Ted Kennedy drives his car off of a bridge on Massachusetts' Chappaquiddick Island. The accident results in the death of passenger Mary Jo Kopechne, a 28-year-old campaign strategist who worked for Kennedy. The ongoing investigation into the mysterious and scandalous events forever alters his political legacy -- and ultimately changes the course of presidential history.
Politics, in our day and age, has changed. You only have to take a glimpse at certain tweets, see what and who is dominating the head lines, and the viral posts on social media to see that it has. But there is one thing that hasn't changed: political manipulation and spin.
In Chappaquiddick we see the weight of a family's legacy on the shoulders of a man who must choose between the truth or political spin and the result is hardly black and white.
At a small party gathering of faithful supporters of his brother Bobby Kennedy on Chappaquiddick Island, Ted decides to drive off into the night with Mary Jo, one of Bobby's most loyal supporters. Taking a bend to fast, he crashes his car into the water, escapes, but cannot free Mary Jo. Ted returns to the party to his two closest confidants and the political spin begins.
Chappaquiddick is a superb tale filled with more political intrigue, deceit, manipulation of the press, and the highest echelon of American society than any fan of The West Wing or House of Cards could shake a stick at. The story is so gripping because its completely wrapped tightly around Ted Kennedy's integrity. Will he tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth of the fateful night? Or will he cover every detail up, blame Mary Jo, in a bid to save not only his political career but the legacy of the Kennedy name and family?
You can't help but feel sorry for Ted Kennedy. His father, Joe, clearly sees him as the last chance to further the Kennedy name and legacy. "Joe Jr. was the favourite one. Jack was the charming one. Bobby was the brilliant one. And what did that leave for me, Dad?" Ted asks. But then you can't help but think he's a terrible person as he sets out to cover up what he has done and play to the press.
Jason Clarke is a revelation as Ted Kennedy and continues to add to his fine body of work which includes Zero Dark Thirty (2012), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), and The Man with the Iron Heart (2017). He beautifully treads the lines between the heavy weight of his family legacy on his shoulders, heartfelt honesty, and the manipulative career politician. Ed Helms is a standout in the impressive ensemble cast and has more than left Andy from the hit TV show The Office and Stu from The Hangover movies behind.
A superbly taut political drama with outstanding performances from a great ensemble cast led magnificently by Jason Clarke.