Movie Review - Chappaquiddick
Larraín recreated a famous television appearance, which became a centerpiece in his 2016 film. Curran does the same. Oscar-winner Natalie Portman perfectly mimics the Kennedy she inhabits in that television appearance. Here, Australian actor, Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty and Mudbound) also perfectly mimics the Kennedy he inhabits in his several, television appearances. Clarke in fact plays Ted Kennedy, the youngest brother to President Kennedy and the U.S. Senator to Massachusetts at that time.
At age 30, Ted had been elected to office two years after President Kennedy's election as the 35th President of the United States and a year before that president's assassination. In 1968, his other brother, Bobby Kennedy was running for President when he too was assassinated on June 6 of that year. A year later, Ted was vacationing on Martha's Vineyard, an island off Cape Cod, in an area known as Chappaquiddick. He was participating in a sailboat race with his cousin and friend. There was a party on the night in question in which Ted invited women who worked on Bobby's campaign.
In Jackie, the horrifying incident resulting in death also happened in a car. Instead of the Kenendy dying and the woman surviving, here the woman dies and the Kennedy lives. Obviously, the major difference other than gender is the fact that the surviving person is culpable in the death of the other and the whole point is showing how he avoids culpability. In that regard, this film could be considered the antithesis of Jackie, as Larraín's film did have self-preservation aspects and media manipulation, but no one walks away thinking as negatively about Jackie as one does about Ted.
Ted comes across as craven and as a man who cares more about his political career than certainly Mary Jo's life. Even if this film didn't fill in all these details, the fact that it took Ted nine hours to report the incident is all the evidence one needs. However, the rest plays like a very well done episode of Scandal or House of Cards where it's all about a politician trying to hold onto power by pulling whatever strings and engaging in whatever deception necessary.
Rated PG-13 for thematic material, disturbing images, some strong language and smoking.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 46 mins.