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Chappaquiddick

“Whether you’re on the left or right side of the aisle, it’s imperative that we take a pretty hard, unvarnished look at our heroes these days.”

[John Curran]

A fine political drama lost in a state of cognitive dissonance regarding the portrayal of Ted Kennedy as victim or culprit. A story of about the value of optics being largely disregarded by the current president and the role of the press to piece together any semblance of truth for the public to make informed decisions. All these themes were incidental to a biographical picture of a man who frankly failed to exude the charisma or intellectual utility for a full feature. A man who appeared to be the bottom fruit of an otherwise golden family tree. What he became is foundational to how he was protected after his seeming incompetence got a woman killed.

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Chappaquiddick tells the story of when Senator Ted Kennedy careened a car off a bridge, killing passenger Mary Jo Kopechne — who worked for his brother’s campaign — later pleading guilty of leaving the scene of a crime, claiming loss memory, shock, and all the rest of the contrivances. Kennedy refused to resign, letting the people of Massachusetts decide his fate based on public perceptions crafted by Kennedy’s own people.

As one source describes it well: it was intended to be a film about “the disposability of women, the impossible expectations of the Kennedy family, how power gets abused, and the role of the media in hiding or exposing political scandal.” Most of that was mentioned in passing, but if writers Taylor Allen & Andrew Logan had the requisite competence, they would have dug deeper into the context that it deserved instead of making background references to main events surrounding the expectations of the Kennedy-Patriarch, the moon landing, and the role of public opinion in the life of a politician.

RATING: C+

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