The Kennedy Scandal that rocked the nation and altered politics, made it to the big screen in the Byron Allen produced movie, Chappaquiddick. The story of the 1969 Martha’s Vineyard car accident with Sen. Ted Kennedy behind the wheel and a political staffer dead, gave an inside look at unknown details and enough evidence for viewers to draw their own conclusions about the incident.
This movie provides predictability and unexpected twists and turns. Actor Jason Clarke took on the starring role as the self-serving Sen. Kennedy who thought more about his potential run for president, than the tragedy of Mary Jo Kopechne (a loyal aide to Bobby Kennedy’s campaign) and any attempt to save her.
Prior to the release of the film, executive producer Byron Allen admitted in a Fox News interview that he was pressured by powerful people connected to the Kennedy family to drop the film and not to release it through his Entertainment Studios production and distribution company. The film hasn’t been the highest box office performer. Chappaquiddick, at the date of this review, grossed close to $16 million. The earnings are light at the box office, but the controversy mixed with politics may have turned some viewers off. The movie also faced competition from sci-fi and horror flicks, A Quiet Place and Ready Player One.
Chappaquiddick starts out showing Kopechne and the innocence of the staffers mourning Bobby Kennedy’s death and celebrating Ted Kennedy’s career potentially moving to the White House. Kopechne had no idea what she was getting into upon opening the door and agreeing to take a ride with Sen. Kennedy.
Chappaquiddick Island had long winding country roads, beautiful blue skies and surrounded by water. The camera angles in the film, shot on location in a Massachusetts coastal town close to the real Chappaquiddick Island, show the beauty of the area, trees and the calmness of the community.
Watching the reenactment of the horrific accident in the film and Sen. Kennedy’s failure to call 911 or get any help for hours, is gut wrenching. It is a story that should that shows when power and politics collide with regular people. The film draws emotion from the audience as you watch Sen. Kennedy sweat and figure out what to do in the hours immediately following the accident.
Although the film doesn't go much further than history books, the shocking behavior of the Kennedy family and their staff will keep you on the edge of your seat. It will also spark a deeper compassion for Mary Jo Kopechne. Clarke did a great job portraying Sen. Kennedy and capturing his voice and mannerisms. Kate Mara will make you emotional in the dramatic death scene in the role of Kopechne.
There are scenes that speak to Sen. Kennedy’s inadequacies from being the brother of a former President and a popular politician. Sen. Kennedy also had a strained relationship with his father.
The reenactment of the car being pulled the car out of the river and the reaction of the diver and the town sheriff show the shock of the town and how political power and selfishness can collide with society.
Overall i think Chappaquiddick does a great job of telling the story and is worth watching. It was a story worth the fight by Byron Allen and his team to tell the story and the people involved without bias.