“Chappa-what?” is what you are saying. Well, this film is about to leave theatres (in all but Cinemark West Plano tomorrow) to move over for Avengers Infinity War, so this review won’t be long. CHAPPAQUIDDICK is about the incident that occured in 1969 on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts where Senator Ted Kennedy drove his car negligently off a one lane bridge, it fell into the tidal channel upside down, he escaped, but the single lady 28 year old passenger did not survive. Kennedy failed to report the accident for a full 12 hours, right before authorities found the young lady’s body inside the vehicle. The way they found her body, there were two conflicting reports, one say she died of suffocation inside the air bubble she had in the car, saying she didn’t die inside the vehicle for several hours after landing in the tidal channel and could have been saved if Kennedy had just reported it. Another claim she died of drowning.
He was a married man, and no one exactly knew what Kennedy and her were driving around doing. It turned into a national known scandal because of the circumstances. Was it really a accident? Why didn’t he report it sooner? Were they having an affair and he drove off to intentionally kill her? The timeline of his actions following the accident are hazy at best. Some believe it was the reason why Ted Kennedy never became President. There are still a bunch of questions about the incident and no one really knows what happens except Ted Kennedy, the girl, and God, and Ted Kennedy took whatever happened to his grave.
Well anyway, there is a movie about it now. The film doesn’t really answer any of the questions. It simply has the very underrated and fantastic Jason Clarke reenact most of what happened according to his written and oral statements, and then gives a scene or two of possible conjecture and what ifs. I wish they would’ve made the movie twenty minutes longer and really put the conjectures and what ifs to the test. The movie basically does show us how powerful the Kennedy name was by showing us how this incident was basically covered up to no end by Kennedy and his father’s group of very power politicians and men, so much so that all he did was plead guilty for leaving the scene of an accident and got two months jail sentence that was ultimately suspended. While Kennedy didn’t end up being President, he still had a very lengthy and successful career as a Senator, and some of you may very well know.
The movie is actually quite good, and it’s mainly because of the acting. Jason Clarke, who you may know as the protagonist in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes or many other low key roles, is excellent here as Ted Kennedy. I didn’t know Ted Kennedy much as a human being, but Jason Clarke completely rips away his own acting persona and becomes and actual conflicting character, one you don’t know whether to sympathize with or truly loathe. Kate Mara plays Mary Jo Kopechne, the woman that dies in the accident. She isn’t in the movie much but Mara plays her well. The two stand outs here are Ed Helms as Joe Gargan and Jim Gaffigan as Paul F. Markham, close friends and advisers to Ted. To see their dramatic acting side when known for mostly comedy is so jarring that your jaw just drops to see how good they are here.
But yeah, there isn’t much more to say. The movie is interesting because of the story and cover up. It is at least a very decent one time watch, just to see the length of the cover up of the whole incident was. This sort of thing nowadays, no way would Kennedy just skirt by with his actions. Today, he would be on trial for months, telecast to the world. The movie is a great indicator on how times have changed and that you can’t really get away with stuff like that anymore. The film is also an interesting character study on how our actions can change and affect almost anything. However, you could just read about this incident on Wikipedia and skip the movie. But with the descriptions on Wikipedia, the film did an accurate job of what was accounted for. So, you avid movie goer, the choice is yours.