"Moses had a temper but he never left a girl at the bottom of the Red Sea."
If anybody feared that the upcoming Chappaquiddick movie would be a whitewash of Ted Kennedy, the recently released trailer should disabuse them of that notion. Legal Insurrection describes the movie as the "portrait of a weasel." Kate Erbland of IndieWire reviewed it as a Compelling Teddy Kennedy Biopic That Pulls No Punches.
Here are some highlights from Erbland's review of Chappaquiddick starring Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy and directed by John Curran based on a script written by Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan:
Curran approaches the material with a pointed perspective that lays bare all of Teddy’s worst impulses and tragic obsessions. “Chappaquiddick” is just as consumed by the various theories as to what scars mark the Kennedys as America has been for decades, but Curran confidently layers on the various forces – reputation, legacy, hubris, family – that push and pull Teddy not just from choice to choice, but moment to moment.
Joe Kennedy (Bruce Dern, perfectly calibrated as ever) looms most immediately over the plot, a felled giant who literally whispers terrible ideas into Teddy’s ear, but other ghosts haunt every moment. From Bobby and Jack’s deaths to his crumbling marriage, his lack of desire to be president and his wish to be his own man, Teddy can’t get out from under the weight of the world, even though he remains convinced that he’s still got some sort of special Kennedy compass guiding him. It mostly guides him woefully astray.
Whenever Clarke is on screen, darkness finds its way into the frame, an inky blankness that turns the most benign of shadows into black holes. But “Chappaquiddick” revels in the gray areas, offering up a version of the story that doesn’t demand full acceptance, but still presents a take on the material with a distinct point of view.
Most damning towards Kennedy, however, is that Allen and Logan’s script repeatedly finds the space for Teddy to make the right decision, often edging so close to it that the film seems close to rewriting actual historical fact, before bending back to choices that only serve to protect his own interests, and at great cost. That Teddy knew the right thing to do and refused to carry through is the film’s consistent message, though it’s never delivered in a heavy-handed manner.
Constrained to that single week, “Chappaquiddick” drives to the historically and emotionally inevitable: Kennedy’s televised statement about the incident, delivered to all the major stations just days after it happened. Clarke does wonders with the material, adding new dimensions and layers between what hit the screen and what lingered just out of frame. As he implores his citizens to hold faith, his own finally slips away, the damage forever done.
On a rather jarring note, People magazine displayed an observation of incredibly misplaced priorities as to who they think was real victim of the Chappaquiddick tragedy in the very title of their review: Watch Ted Kennedy's Life Get Derailed in Exclusive Chappaquiddick Trailer.
Their concluding paragraph only adds to the misplaced sense of victimhood:
Many believe the ensuing scandal cost Kennedy, the youngest son of America’s most famous political dynasty, his chance at the Presidency and that he could never shake the many questions that remained about what really happened that night.
As could be expected, People magazine is currently being roasted for this on the Web.
An interesting piece of trivia about Chappaquiddick which opens in theaters on April 6 is found at IMDB:
Jason Clarke, who plays Ted Kennedy is this film, was born on July 17th, 1969, just one day before the Chappaquiddick incident on July 18th, 1969.