This is the greatest story of white privilege ever told.

Just days before man landed on the moon, Senator Ted Kennedy was drinking too much when he flipped his car off a bridge and into a shallow pond. He was fine. He got out. But he left behind his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, who died slowly, in agony, as her pocket of air expired. Which is not to say Ted Kennedy was completely unmoved. He was very sad to realize this meant he would never become president. Thinking only of himself, he walked by several houses and many phones in order to let his lawyers know, who encouraged him to report the accident while standing beside a payphone not one of them ever picked up. Instead he snuck back to his hotel, and on the advice of his father, established an alibi. Ten hours later, he made his way to the police station, minutes after her body was discovered. Had he summoned help, she would have lived. Instead she died, not of the impact, not of drowning, but of suffocation over the course of several hours.

mv5bodnlngjjnjutyzgyzs00mmjjlwi3yzmty2fmzthiogvkndk5xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndg2mjuxnjm@._v1_sy1000_sx1500_al_The film follows the despicable events that follow: Kennedy’s obsession with minimizing the consequences to himself while painting himself as the victim. He assembles a whole team of men willing to lie and spin the story in his favour. Not a single one of them sheds a tear for the woman who died alone in the dark backseat of Kennedy’s submerged car.

In many ways, I hate this movie. It made my blood boil. But that’s exactly what it’s supposed to do. Jason Clarke gives a pretty able and nuanced performance as the unconscionable Senator. Ed Helms also does a good job trying to be his conscience, and that’s not an enviable position. But despite these winning performances, the truth is still obscured. Director John Curran makes some choices I don’t understand, but he’s very capable at leaving space where Kennedy has the opportunity to do the right thing and doesn’t. And though his brother John is of course already gone, the moon looms over Teddy in many a scene, as if his older brother is looking down upon him, reminding us of their very different legacies. It’s a heartbreaking story that perhaps doesn’t fully play that way on screen, in part because the movie is as absorbed with Ted and Ted alone as Kennedy himself is. Opportunity vs. integrity – that’s what Helms says as Kennedy cousin Joey Gargan. And Ted Kennedy certainly chose one over the other.



26 thoughts on “Chappaquiddick

  1. orcaflotta

    I think I’ll give this one a pass. Because …
    – no exploding starships
    – drama
    – probably much talking
    – American politicians
    – my blood might begin to boil
    – did I mention the total lack of exploding starships?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Jay Post author

      Well OJ was a black guy that white America had deemed white. He was adopted. He played their favourite sport. He made them money. He dated pretty white ladies.

      He was acquitted by a black-majority jury. After the riots, and Rodney King, the LA jury was looking for retribution. They needed a win. They wanted to get him off regardless.
      And frankly, the prosecution made that possible.
      He was later found guilty, in civil court, by a white-majority jury.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Arcane Nibbler

    It probably did effectively ruin his chances of becoming president, yet the people of Massachusetts kept him as their senator until his death 40 years later. SMH While he was an effective senator for many liberal causes, I am still embarrassed by this. Liberalism is nothing without morals and ethics.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. allthingsthriller

    Powerful review, Jay. So many people speak of the Kennedy’s with reverent tones. That irks me. JFK was a good, strategic, superiorly intelligent president. He also got the U.S. into Vietnam, won the presidency with the help of the mafia and mucked up the Bay of Pigs–not to mention that he double crossed the mafia and got himself killed.
    To me, Ted Kennedy had all of JFK’s morality problems and not nearly as many of his big brother’s attributes.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. msjadeli

    thinking back to when it happened it was a headline that passed without much thought. every once in awhile the body would be exhumed and speculated over again, but i never knew her cause of death was preventable and due to suffocation and not trauma or drowning. and yet he walked free :::nausea rising::: will skip this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jay Post author

      Yes, well they managed to suppress a lot of those details from getting out, so it doesn’t surprise me that the news coverage at the time was incomplete. People still wanted to believe in the Kennedy name, and it was clearly powerful enough to sway the press.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. indiefan20

    I had never actually heard of this case until I read the novel ‘Black Water’ by Joyce Carol Oates. Since I liked that book, now I’m interested in watching a movie based on the same case. Great review! 🙂


  6. timkeen40

    Wait a minute!
    A politician – only interested in power and perpetual reelection – would run away from a moment where he had screwed up, at least in the eyes of the electors, and try to cover it? That is unbelievable.
    The only “honest” politician I know is DJT (Not an endorsement!!!) and everyone seems to hate his guts.

    The Kennedy story is general is one of greed, power, and corruption. Sadly, it is the way out country is run.


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Birgit

    Remember all the accolades he got when he kicked the bucket? It made me think of what my dad used to say, “Just because the son of a bitch is dead, doesn’t make him a saint.” Now my dad died in 1988 but it just shows that his comment always applies. Just because he is a Kennedy makes many still believe in that so called Camelot…you know, where the President, a good President but a horrible husband. That Kennedy clan has more skeletons in their closet than all of Canada has.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Jason

    I agree with you that I hated this movie for what the characters did, which is what the movie was suppose to do. The acting was great in the movie (especially Ed Helms), but this movie just shows yet another “guarded” secret from the Kennedy family.



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