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Film Review – Chappaquiddick

Film Review – Chappaquiddick


The new film “Chappaquiddick” directed by John Curran and written by Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan opened this weekend. It’s a straightforward examination of the events surrounding the death of Mary Jo Kopechne when Ted Kennedy crashed his car off a bridge on Martha’s Vineyard.

It can be summed up in one word. Brutal.

Let me begin by saying this film is going to do extraordinarily well. First, because it’s a well made film and second because there is tremendous interest in the story. I saw the movie at an out of the way multi-theater cinema in northern Massachusetts. When I arrived for the 4:30 pm matinee, I got the second to last ticket. The next showing at 7:30 pm was already sold out.

The story opens on the weekend of the accident. It sets the stage with a party being thrown for the “Boiler Room Girls” who worked for the recently assassinated Bobby Kennedy. Mary Jo Kopechne explains to a friend that she has no interest in returning to national political work in Washington, DC and is happier working on a mayoral campaign in New Jersey.

Ted Kennedy, who has just participated in a sailboat regatta shows up at the party, toasts all the girls as part of the Kennedy family and quickly finds himself sitting on the couch with Kopechne. They eventually slip away from the party for a drive into American history.

When the infamous crash occurs, the film increases in tempo and the rest of the story is the aftermath. This is where the scandal is only beginning, for it is everything that comes afterwards that reveals the depravity of Kennedy and his team.

Aside from a few flashbacks where Kennedy relives the accident, Mary Jo Jopechne becomes an afterthought. Everything that transpires after her death is about saving Ted Kennedy’s political future and keeping him out of jail.

Two associates who were with him the night of the party, Joe Gargan, a lawyer and “adopted” Kennedy family member and Paul F. Markham, US Attorney for Massachusetts, who is expertly played by stand-up comic Jim Gaffigan. They rely on Kennedy to report the accident but of course, he doesn’t.

Everything Kennedy does in the hours after the accident only makes the situation worse. He is like a child who knows he has done something that will mean real trouble but instead of owning up, continually tries to deny reality or somehow scheme his way out of it.

Once local authorities discover the wreck, Kennedy makes his way to the Edgartown police department where he offers the chief a written statement and is released. He returns to the Kennedy compound in Hyannis. There, he is confronted by Joseph Kennedy Sr., who is played by Hollywood veteran Bruce Dern. By now, the senior Kennedy is in a wheelchair and in failing health. Dern has exactly three lines in the film, yet turns in one of the most powerful performances.

Also waiting for him at the compound is an army of lawyers and political advisers led by Robert McNamara, who is portrayed by Clancy Brown. You may recall Brown as the primary villain in the 1986 movie Highlander and for voicing Mr. Krabs on Spongebob Squarepants. He turns in an excellent performance as McNamara, who directs the political spin campaign from that point.

Kennedy attends the funeral for Kopechne and wears a neck brace against everyone’s advice, a move he ultimately regrets. Shortly after that, it is Kennedy himself who comes up with the idea of making a nationally televised statement about the incident, a concept which is cheered by his advisers.

He toys with the thought of using this address to resign from the senate but ultimately decides to put the onus of that decision on the voters of Massachusetts. It is at this point, that Kennedy finds his way out and it is presented as cynically as it sounds.

Jason Clarke, the actor who plays Kennedy is outstanding. His portrayal of the senator could easily have fallen into the realm of caricature. Instead, Clarke shows us a real man who knows he is doomed. Kate Mara is also excellent as Kopechne and remains memorable, despite little screen time.

Director John Curran deserves credit for telling the unvarnished story. His film career is guaranteed to take off after this project.

Even if you know the whole story, as many Americans do, Chappaquiddick is worth your time and ticket money. I give it four out of five stars. Watch the trailer below:


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Etched onto Ted’s grave marker, “Every man must believe in something – As for me, I believe I’ll have another drink”

Kennedy was Pro-Choice. He deemed his girlfriend not viable, and under the Twilight Amendment, her elective abortion was Planned, and, not only pragmatic, but also “legal”. Anyway, it was politically congruent (“=”). MoveOn. Forward. Progress. Unqualified, monotonic Change.

    YellowGrifterInChief in reply to n.n. | April 8, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Trump is much better. While people were dying in Puerto Rico, he threw out a few rolls of paper towels.

      We should of let Hillary handle it. Look how well the Haitians are doing under their care.


      Puerto Rico also suffered from premeditated local political corruption, which prevented pre-disaster preparations and hampered post-disaster recovery. But, hey, you think it is Trump’s fault. Is there anything he can’t do? Like almost everything is his fault.

      Obvious lies. What makes them obvious is that they’re so stooopid, with three “o”s.

      When the storm hit Puerto Rico the USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and USS Oak Hill (LSD-51) were standing off the island already conducting storm avoidance. That way they were able to get to the island as quickly as possible after the storm passed with relief supplies and the aviation and landing craft capabilities to deliver those supplies. Oh, and the Kearsarge is also a hospital ship. She’s got a hospital capable of caring for 600 casualties, and three battle dressing stations capable of providing aid to anyone who doesn’t require hospital care, because that’s where we evacuate wounded Marines during and after an amphibious assault.

      Within days the USS Wasp (LHD-1) arrived with another hospital and more supplies. These ships are a lot more useful in a disaster relief situation than the USNS comfort. Under international law the Comfort can’t carry offensive weapons. Which means that although she has aircraft handling facilities, she has no hangar facilities so she can’t embark a helo detachment. So unlike the Kearsarge and Wasp which can stand off the island anywhere and send help where it’s needed, she requires a port. And it’s a stooopid idea to send such a large ship into port immediately after a hurricane. What with all the navigational hazards such as trees, other debris, and most importantly sunken boats. Ports are full of sunken boats immediately after a hurricane. Hazards that can hole the hull or foul the screws and rudder.

      Plus the Comfort isn’t a cargo ship, but the amphibious ships are designed for exactly that purpose. To send tons of supplies ashore to support the Marines.

      Yeah, Trump just threw a few rolls of toilet paper at the dying people. Who were dying because the Democrats who run the island had let the infrastructure fall apart. They were warned years ago that their electrical grid was on the verge of disaster even without a hurricane, and their dams and levees were falling apart. That’s their fault, not Trump’s.

      Moron. Lying moron. Trump sent three of our most useful ships to Puerto Rico to conduct disaster relief.

      You apparently don’t understand how federal emergency assistance works. The feds deliver assistance and it’s up to the local government to distribute goods and direct/allocate services. The government of PR (which had supposedly spent a pile of money on disaster preparedness over the years) proved woefully unprepared for the task. That’s why relief didn’t reach the people in a timely manner. (Same was true in New Orleans.)

      theduchessofkitty in reply to YellowGrifterInChief. | April 8, 2018 at 9:57 pm

      I was born and raised in Puerto Rico.

      I still have family and friends in Puerto Rico.

      They were witnesses to everything that occurred during the hurricane.

      People at the church where the charitable items were being disbursed have said the distribution was disorganized and chaotic, with few people receiving the items they needed because the ones on the front rows were being a bit greedy.

      Trump saw that happening – and tossed some paper towels to those on the back so the people on the back rows could have something, which was being denied by the ones on the front rows.

      I know Spanish. I read all the articles in Spanish on that incident. It wasn’t Trump’s fault that my poor island is in such a mess. Blame the corrupt politicians in the island which have made living in the island practically impossible. A poor energy infrastructure for which billions were raised in bonds, only to be eaten away by the corrupt bastards running the utility. It was the fiscal irresponsibility of the local politicians which made the island unprepared for the hurricane which showed the world how big of a mess the island is in. All Trump did is to confirm it with his own two eyes.

      Eres un MENTIROSO! (YOU ARE A LIAR!)

No life for you. Next!

“Director John Curran deserves credit for telling the unvarnished story. His film career is guaranteed to take off after this project.”

These two sentences are contradictory. This is America in the 21st century and the legend of Ted Kennedy, Lion of the Senate, is received wisdom. He is held up as a role model for young progressives. By telling the unvarnished story, the director may have actually doomed his future in Hollywood.

Humphrey's Executor | April 8, 2018 at 2:55 pm

I saw it. Good movie. Spoiler: After the accident — while Mary Jo Kopechne slowly suffocated in the dark, praying for help that never came — Teddy focused intently on rescuing what mattered most to him: His political career.

Sorenson, who claimed authorship of JFK’s 1957 tome Profiles in Courage, was a member of the cabal who sought to spin Ted Kennedy’s dereliction of duty. Too bad that both of them forgot the quote of Sen Edmund Gibson Ross (R-KS) who, went he voted against the removal of President Andrew Johnson, is quoting as having said:

“I almost literally looked down into my open grave. Friendships, position, fortune, everything makes life desirable to an ambitious man were about to be swept away by the breath of my mouth, perhaps forever.”

When faced with a similar moment in the career of EFK, both of them looked into the abyss, and then turned away. Shameful then, shameful now. Both of them should be looked upon with the scorn they deserve.

    fscarn in reply to katasuburi. | April 8, 2018 at 3:10 pm

    Ted Fat Boy Kennedy = Profile in Putty

    Another Ed in reply to katasuburi. | April 8, 2018 at 8:32 pm

    “EFK”? No. EMK – Edward Moore Kennedy, named for Joseph Kennedy’s secretary.

    “Kennedy went to Harvard University but as a freshman was expelled after having a friend take a Spanish exam for him.

    This early indication of “blurred judgment,” Kennedy biographer Max Lerner wrote in 1980, set a pattern of “confusion, blunder, remorse, expiation, rebuilding, that was to be repeated on a larger canvas.” Significantly, Kennedy’s father was able to suppress the story from the newspapers until Ted ran for the Senate 11 years later.

    After being expelled from Harvard, Kennedy enlisted in the Army, rising to private first class and winning an honorable discharge in 1953. He was accepted back at Harvard and graduated in 1956. He graduated from law school at the University of Virginia three years later.

    Kennedy plunged into politics almost immediately, serving as campaign director for the Rocky Mountain states in John Kennedy’s 1960 drive for the presidency.

    He then took a job as assistant district attorney in Suffolk County, Mass., and, in 1962, he ran against a prominent Democrat, state Atty. Gen. Edward McCormack, for the unexpired Senate term vacated when JFK won the presidency.

    The campaign gave the younger Kennedy his first brush with political hardball: McCormack, a veteran politician and nephew of House Speaker John W. McCormack, portrayed his challenger as a lightweight who was trading on his family name.

    “If your name was [merely] Edward Moore [instead of Edward Moore Kennedy], your candidacy would be a joke,” McCormack told him during a debate.

    But Kennedy’s name was Kennedy, and he won the primary. He went on to beat Republican George Cabot Lodge, the son of former Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.”

    The joke was on us.

Just how did the people of Massachusetts reelect him again and again? What a scumbag and a beneficiary of the justice of the elite.

I went with my wife to see the movie. She hadn’t heard of Chappaquiddick, I have heard a lot about the various theories that will never be proven since Mary Jo’s body was never autopsied. I felt that the movie portrayed the most neutral and plausible happening before the crash. The rest of the movie – shows what a truly evil, dim-witted, self-absorbed piece of filth this particular Kennedy was. “You’re a putz, Teddy!” was my favorite line in the movie.

The scariest part of the movie was Mary Jo’s friend’s behavior near the end of the story.

Shame on the people of Massachusetts.

    Paul in reply to NoFlow. | April 8, 2018 at 4:27 pm

    If you think Teddy was a scumbag, you should read up on the rest of the Kennedy clan. Papa Joe Kennedy had one of his daughters lobotomized because she was getting frisky with the boys. Whoring around was OK for the men in the family, but the girls got a brain-scapin’ if they tried it.

    Then there was Camelot and JFK. Did you know that he pimped out his teenage interns to his big campaign contributors? Yeah, he liked to watch the girls give dirty old rich men BJ’s in the White House swimming pool.

    Then there are the various rapists and murderers in the extended family clan. A real class act, those Kennedy’s.

      Anchovy in reply to Paul. | April 8, 2018 at 7:32 pm

      And Teddy’s reply, “Hic… I’d rather have a free bottle in front of me than a prefrontal lobotomy.”

      NoFlow in reply to Paul. | April 9, 2018 at 6:52 pm

      Kennedys are scum, that is true.

      Teddy deserves our special ire. He offered to collude with the Soviets in May 1983 in an attempt to aide his political campaign to oust President Reagan in 1984.

      The traitorous pig should be removed from Arlington National Cemetery.

    murkyv in reply to NoFlow. | April 8, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    From the Boston Globe in 2003…

    “If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age,”.

Even though I have driven by the George H.W. Bush Library many times, I will always remember this day in 2003. I will never visit that library even though it is only a few hours away.

Kennedy to receive Bush award
Oct. 6, 2003 at 10:20 AMFollow @upi

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6 (UPI) — The 2003 George H.W. Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service will be presented to Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., the Bush library foundation says.

“During his remarkable career spanning over four decades, Sen. Kennedy has consistently and courageously fought for his principles,” the Bush Foundation’s Roman Popadiuk said. “His commitment to excellence in public policy and his devotion to public service serve as an inspiration to all Americans and make him a superb recipient of the Bush Award.”

    Milwaukee in reply to TX-rifraph. | April 8, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    Bush family, Kennedy family, too much in common to have anything in common with ordinary Americans. John sank his PT boat, George H. W. bailed out of his plane, neither one investigated. Both with compounds in that part of the world, Hyannis Port and Kennebunkport.

    herm2416 in reply to TX-rifraph. | April 9, 2018 at 4:22 am

    Well, it WAS a “remarkable” career.
    Remarkable in a very, very bad way. Shame on the people who continued to elect him, despite his incredible dishonesty, womanizing, and murderous ways—and who showed very little remorse for any of it.

I wonder if someday, someone will make a movie about Bill Clinton raping Juanita Broaddrick.

    Or this movie?

    Barack Obama & Larry Sinclair: Cocaine, Sex, Lies & Murder?

    “The biggest untold story of the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election… Finally, the no-holds-barred, 100% true story of Barack Obama’s use and sale of cocaine; his homosexual affairs and the December 23, 2007 murder of Barack Obama’s former lover and choir director of Obama’s Chicago church of 20 years, Donald Young, just days before the 2008 Iowa Caucus. This searing candid story begins with Barack Obama meeting Larry Sinclair in November, 1999, and subsequently procuring and selling cocaine, and then engaging in consensual, homosexual sex with Sinclair on November 6th and again on November 7, 1999. You’ll read in riveting detail how Sinclair, in 2007, repeatedly contacted and requested that the Obama campaign simply come clean about their candidate’s 1999 drug use and sales. You learn how the Obama campaign, David Axelrod and Barack Obama used Donald Young (the homosexual lover of Barack Obama) to contact and seek out information from Sinclair about who he had told of Obama’s crimes and actions. You’ll read how the Obama campaign used internet porn king Dan Parisi and Ph.D. fraud Edward I. Gelb to conduct a rigged polygraph exam in an attempt to make the Sinclair story go away. The Obama team and the controlled media – specifically MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, the New York Times, CNN, Politico’s Ben Smith, The DailyKos, The Huffington Post and others – attacked the National Press Club for making its facilities available to Larry Sinclair for a news conference to present his evidence and allegations to the world media. You’ll read how Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, issued an arrest warrant on completely false, fabricated charges to attempt to discredit Mr. Sinclair’s National Press Club news conference. This is a staggeringly true story of how the sitting U.S.President with the help of the Mainstream Media, the Chicago Police Department, the FBI, the Delaware Attorney General and others got away with murder and more….”

The review is missing an important line:

” Mary Jo Kopechne was unavailable for comment.”

I’ll never forget the woman you told me Teddy Kennedy made amends for Mary Jo by sacrificing his personal life to become a public servant. She was dead serious.

That he served in the Senate for so long and that Hillary rose to the top for their 2016 choice for POTUS speaks loud.

Yet Trump is the end of civilization according to libs.

I am pleasantly surprised by this review, when I first heard of this movie I expected it to be mere hagiography, an attempt by Hollywood to lionize Ted Kennedy. That said, this movie should have been made decades ago but for Hollywood’s political leanings, and only comes out now that Kennedy has been dead almost a decade. | April 8, 2018 at 10:39 pm

The movie shrewdly plays it straight. No wacky conspiracy theories, no scenes showing a sloshed Teddy staggering to the Oldsmobile. It makes what follows all the more devastating.

Walker Evans | April 9, 2018 at 3:22 am

I have not seen this flick and have no intention of doing so, but I am curious on one point: did they mention that two people died that night? Mary Jo was pregnant, which has been glossed over by everyone, starting the afternoon following the “accident”.

No clue who the father of her basted may have been.

buckeyeminuteman | April 9, 2018 at 10:58 am

It’s too bad Drunken Ted is buried in Arlington. He defiles that sacred ground.