Jason Clarke (Everest) is Ted Kennedy in this political drama that revisits Ted Kennedy's 1969 car accident with Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara, The Martian) and the ensuing cover-up.... More

Mid-1969, Senator of Massachusetts Ted Kennedy hosts a party on Chappaquiddick Island - a gathering of single women and mostly married men. Late that night, Kennedy drives away with a young woman, and has a serious car accident that he fails to report for ten hours. That crucial and suspicious period of time is fleshed out by this film, tracing the attempts of the last surviving Kennedy brother to manage the ensuing scandal.Hide

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Flicks Review

It’s tough examining tawdry historical political scandal in the Trump era, much like how modern scepticism about the honesty of governments robbed The Post of some of its impact. Throwing House of Cards alum Kate Mara into the mix as the victim of Senator Teddy Kennedy’s negligence here invites further comparison to that show’s constant ante-upping in moral turpitude. These factors, among others, help to cast some of the concern in protecting Kennedy’s reputation as outlined in Chappaquiddick as quaint — in particular, why a married man was getting boozed with younger women, and then took one on a late night drive with the Clinton-ian motives that implies.... More

No amount of tabloid antics and dossier allegations can overshadow the tragic outcome of Kennedy’s poor decision-making and cowardice seen here, though. While Chappaquiddick may be a restrained retelling of events, there’s a real life-or-death issue behind Kennedy’s crisis management that casts his self-serving actions in a pretty despicable light.

Following the timeline of events in the public record, the film follows Jason Clarke as Kennedy, doing a creditable impression of the uncertain Senator. This 1969 version carries the weight of expectation that comes with being the last surviving Kennedy brother, and therefore the final vehicle for his horrid father’s desire to install the family in the White House. It’s a pressure that we see merge with his fear, weakness and dishonesty when Kennedy flees the scene of an accident with seemingly scant regard for the other person involved. Very quickly, the only thing he looks to save is his political career.

Clarke’s Kennedy comes across as a somewhat pathetic figure, and his confused inscrutability often serves to limit the impact of dramatising events that took place outside the public eye. Much of the film is spent on a mix of fact and speculation about the ten hours Kennedy spent panicking and trying to establish an alibi for his actions, but unfortunately doesn’t manage to get to his motivations or emotions.

By the time prevarication has given way to self-preservation, Chappaquiddick has successfully shown the awful lengths individuals and the ruling class will go to in order to preserve power; the disposability of young women during the era; and has exposed stunning selfishness. We still don’t know what’s going on Kennedy’s head even as the film concludes - maybe that’s the point, but something still feels missing.Hide

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The Press Reviews

  • Everything is methodical, it covers most of the bases, but passion and vitality are crucially missing from director John Curran's treatment. Full Review

  • The push and pull of this movie is really between the lead character and the audience. One moment we feel compassionate: he wants to do the right thing. The next moment he's gone down the cover-up rabbit hole and is an irredeemable swine. Full Review

  • "Chappaquiddick" is exactly what you want it to be: a tense, scrupulous, absorbingly precise and authentic piece of history - a tabloid scandal attached to a smoke-filled-room travesty. Full Review

  • When you consider the films about real-life politicians we usually get, Chappaquiddick is surprisingly bold even if its modest approach belies its striking statements. Full Review

  • In the final analysis "Chappaquiddick" is the story of a weak man. Maybe someone who had deep-seated reasons for that weakness, but still a not particularly appealing individual whose actions frustrate rather than draw us in. Full Review

  • Whether or not events actually unfolded this way, the story the film tells is an interesting and complicated character study, with something to say about the corrosive effects of power and privilege on both the innocent and the guilty. Full Review

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