Chappaquiddick is a riveting, suspenseful drama that focuses on the events of Ted Kennedy’s infamous car accident and the resulting death of Mary Jo Kopechne.
The last thing the Kennedy family needed was a national scandal. After the death of four older siblings (Joe Jr., Kathleen, John and Robert), and the failed lobotomy of sister Rosemary, Ted Kennedy understood tragedy. Sadly, nothing prepared him for that fatal car crash in 1969.
The movie begins on July 18th, and quickly hurdles through the events that lead up to the accident. Director John Curran makes the smart decision to use witness testimony, expert opinion, and official statements as his source material. Even Mary Jo’s last moments are based on medical reports and expert opinion. The shaky facts surrounding the case are strange and intriguing enough, the film is smart to stay away from further speculation. While there is some dramatization (this isn’t a documentary after all), the decisions made are all in service of recorded accounts.
Led by Jason Clarke (Mudbound) as Kennedy and Kate Mara (House of Cards) as Kopechne, the film stars an intriguing cast including Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Jim Gaffigan (The Jim Gaffigan Show), Ed Helms (The Office), and Clancy Brown (Sleepy Hollow). Clarke is so skillful in his acting choices that it is impossible to officially paint Kennedy as the villain. Mara’s screen time is short but her moments in the car, underwater, will break your heart. Gaffigan and Helms, two actors better known for their comedic roles, slide seamlessly into the dramatic roles of Paul Markham and Joseph Gargan.
The film is visually stunning, well-acted, intriguing and is thoughtful in its depiction of possible real-life events. If you’re a fan of suspense films, the true-crime genre, or Kennedy family history, Chappaquiddick is a must-see movie. Watch the trailer below:
Need more? Watch as Ted Kennedy addresses the incident in a public statement on July 25, 1969: