Friday, May 18, 2018
Now nearly fifty years since the accident, John Curran dramatizes the days following the death of Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara) with his film Chappaquiddick, What he depicts is how after the accident, Kennedy (Jason Clarke) and his legal team tried their damnedest to save both his own and his family's reputations. But often lost in this scramble of public relations is the fact a woman died involuntarily by his hand.
Throughout Chappaquiddick, Kennedy is depicted as someone who's more concerned about his image than the people he's supposed to be representing. Now obviously this can be viewed as far from the truth (Kennedy was haunted by Kopechne's death until his dying day forty years later) or an attempt to depict politicians -- real or fictional -- as arrogant. (His wearing an unnecessary neck brace to Kopechne's funeral certainly did not help his mounting troubles.)
The depiction of the aftermath may be on shaky ground but Clarke's portrayal of Kennedy is particularly noteworthy. He plays the late senator as a man under the weight of expectation from both his father and his country. (The shadows of his brothers loom over him throughout Chappaquiddick.) Now if this was also true in real life is hard to say but Clarke is excellent.
Chappaquiddick ends up raising more questions than answering them. What caused Kennedy to drive off the bridge? Was it really an accident or was it deliberate? Was was the extent of his connection with Kopechne? The real answers went to the grave with Kopechne and Kennedy, so we may never know the truth.
My Rating: ****