Chappaquiddick (2018) is a film based on true events involving Senator Ted Kennedy, based on a car accident that was caused by Kennedy in 1969. What makes this film great is that it lays the truth out and does not tell the audience how to feel.
The absurdity of politics is magnified through the lens of a car accident. When a Kennedy is involved, it is not the same as everybody else. The movie explains how Ted Kennedy and his advisors carefully structured the situation so that the public could still view him positively. The dialogue in this film often comes out as humorous because of the absurdity of the political process of decision making. The director, John Curran, deserves credit for being able to find a nice line between humor and drama. The film is often funniest in its most serious moments, which is a difficult task to direct.
The acting by Jason Clarke as Ted Kennedy is wonderful. Clarke is often overlooked as an actor, but he delivered a wonderful performance in Chappaquiddick. He does a great job at showing the internal grief of Ted Kennedy trying to follow up the reputation of his two older brothers; while also trying to figure out who he is as a person. Ed Helms does a nice job in the supporting role as Ted Kennedy’s cousin, Joe Gargan. Helms uses his usual light personality to stand as the voice of reason which balances Ted Kennedy who often makes questionable decisions.
My biggest criticism with this film is that the dialogue occasionally felt a bit too, “on the nose.” Sometimes the writing didn’t feel completely natural and I didn’t believe these characters would really say what they did. For the most part, the dialogue is strong and keeps the story moving along. What I really admire about this film is that it poses questions that linger days after you have seen it. It makes fun of politics while staying truthful. And most of all, it accurately shares an engaging and strange moment in history.