I have always wanted to know the truth behind the well-known Ted Kennedy car accident. I guess we will never know the full truth behind this infamous and unfortunate event that largely killed Ted Kennedy’s presidential chances, but CHAPPAQUIDDICK, an admirable effort from director John Curran, provides some very good insight and perspective on what happened back in Chappaquiddick in 1969. This is a tale of influence, politics, bad decisions, and broken principles.
The movie starts with Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke), a promising young senator from the state of Massachusetts, relaxing in a nice cottage in Chappaquiddick with his close friends and his campaign team which included the “Boiler Room Girls”, an all female team that worked with Senator Robert Kennedy in his presidential campaign (Ted’s late brother who was assassinated in 1968). Ted was close to one of those girls who went by Mary Jo Kopechne, the film never implies that there was an affair between the two of them and the decent script by Andrew Logan and Taylor Allen gives the audience the freedom to decide on that which I found to be very intriguing. On that fateful night, senator Kennedy decides to go for a ride with Mary Jo and accidentally drove his car off the small bridge.
What happens after the accident is a story of an internal struggle between doing what is right or doing what is right just for you. The film boldly shows that justice is not the same for the rich and powerful, it is much more lenient and political. We see the amazing transformation of a very stubborn person towards his ideal principles into someone who would do anything to stay in the political game. The writers took some liberty to show all that and we will never know the full picture of what happened behind those closed doors.
I never paid close attention to Australian actor Jason Clarke, but here he does a good job in bringing Senator Kennedy to life. All the supporting cast in this one is more than game, they are all impressive including Ed Helms and Kate Mara. CHAPPAQUIDDICK might not be a cinematic experience or a big production, but it is definitely worth checking out.
CHAPPAQUIDDICK is now in limited release in Canada.