Critic Consensus: Chappaquidick can't help leaving some of this true story's most intriguing questions unanswered, but it's bolstered by outstanding work from Jason Clarke in the central role.
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Critic Reviews for Chappaquiddick
The film seems to me a fair-minded stab at the truth and an irresistible look at the exercise of dynastic influence.
In the end Chappaquiddick will have to pass the same test as Kennedy's original version of the story-whether or not anyone will buy it.
Clarke makes us feel plenty of things we'd rather not. His eyes are shadowed with profound decency one minute, and hollowed out in desperate calculation the next.
If you're looking for something to make you feel good about chubby, cherubic Ted, the venerable lion of the Senate, this is not your movie.
A film of integrity and disclosure, a controversial chapter in American history that substitutes clinical accuracy for Hollywood embellishment, with an impressive attention to detail and an admirable respect for suspenseful narrative.
Audience Reviews for Chappaquiddick
Based on a true story, Chappaquiddick is a powerful political drama. The story follows a weekend party hosted by Senator Ted Kennedy on Chappaquiddick Island during which he got into a car accident that killed a young girl who was riding with him, and the ensuing cover-up and battle within the Kennedy family on how to handle the situation. Starring Jason Clarke, Ed Helms, Kate Mara, and Bruce Dern, the cast is quite impressive and gives some good performances. And surprisingly the film doesn't whitewash the events; showing the political wheeling and dealing behind the scenes. Yet it also shows the moral questioning and personal struggle Ted Kennedy goes through. Additionally, the sets and costumes are really well-done, and feel authentic to the time period. A fascinating biopic, Chappaquiddick is extraordinarily compelling and provocative.
The moon looms in so many of the shots here just as it did in the news cycle during that 1969 July when Senator Edward Kennedy drove off a bridge, killing his passenger. His first words after the accident are: "I'm not going to be president." How Chappaquiddick might hold up against history is uncertain, but director John Curran (The Painted Veil) swiftly clarifies what he and the writers believe to be the answers to questions that have no doubt plagued the incident since that fateful night. How did Kennedy end up driving off the bridge? Was he drunk? What were he and Mary Jo Kopechne doing together that night? Was there a third person in the car? Why did he wait so long to report the accident? There is no hesitation to paint Kennedy into an unflattering corner with Ed Helms as conflicted Kennedy cousin Joseph Gargan being a highlight. Gargan's struggles and position within his famous family are what illustrate what it seems Chappaquiddick is truly trying to get at; that the Kennedy's never held themselves to the same laws as those they felt they were meant to serve. That somehow, because they lived a life of service they were exempt from the same standards. It's an interesting if not obvious thesis, but I wish it was explored in a deeper and more moving manner as Curran's film feels very much like a CliffsNotes version of a much bigger story.
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