Chappaquiddick

CHAPPAQUIDDICK GALA D: John Curran. U.S. 107 min..


CHAPPAQUIDDICK GALA D: John Curran. U.S. 107 min. Sep 16, 11:30 am, Elgin. Rating: NN


This account of the late senator Ted Kennedy’s bad behaviour after his car went off the road and killed his passenger, Mary Joe Kopechne, spends way too much time trying to make us feel sorry for him. In this version, the sad senator (played convincingly by Aussie Jason Clarke), by far the least talented of the Kennedy brothers, is tormented by having to live in his brothers’ shadow while being dismissed by his father (Bruce Dern) – who abuses him even after being seriously debilitated by a stroke.

The reality, and more relevant to the story, is that Kennedy was also a hugely entitled man-boy, who had unbridled influence in his home state of Massachusetts and boozed and womanized his way through his first terms as a senator.

At a party for six women who had worked on his brother Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign, Kennedy, who had had a few, offered to drive one of the women, Mary Joe Kopechne (Kate Mara), to her hotel. He drove off the bridge into a pond. Kopechne drowned, he survived and waited 10 hours before calling police.

Even when the movie tries to make the point that Kennedy and his team had almost complete control over the authorities and the media, it’s clunky. A scene in which the suits try to give him legal advice portrays them more as clownish than menacing.

Adviser Joe Gargan (Ed Helms) appears to be in possession of a moral compass, valiantly trying to get in Kennedy’s face, and the film shows the potential to be an intriguing procedural.

But almost everything about his personal life feels fake. The only really convincing family moment comes when Kennedy’s wife Joan (Andria Blackman), riding in the car with the senator on the way to Kopechne’s funeral, tells him to fuck off.

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