When I went to Martha’s Vineyard years back, I asked a gentleman how I get to Chappaquiddick bridge. He said “ah the Kennedy car wash”.
Joe Kennedy was one of the most classless people God ever created. They made him ambassador to England during WW2. One night he proceeded to get drunk and outside Buckingham Palace and was screaming that Hitler would be living here in two months, (some diplomat!)
Joe Kennedy made his fortune with Crown Royal whiskey, short selling on the floor of the NY stock exchange and robbing the Catholic Church. He then par laid his money into power. He bought his son a presidency with the help of La Cosa Nostra and made sure Bobby was the U.S. Attorney General. He made sure his son, Edward,(Teddy) was elected into the Senate.
I am all for helping your children get along and prosper, but when you have three animals like he had, you need to sit back and think about how much public exposure you want them to have.
Ted was a drunk and a wild man, he could not control himself until he was well into his 60’s. He was good to his constituents in Massachusetts, but that’s where it ends. He was underhanded in his personal and professional life, kicked out of Harvard for cheating as well mass cover ups in government.
I am glad a movie is being made about how he drowned that girl from Saddle River, N.J. and how his father covered it up. The movie shows that even with Joe incapacitated by a stroke, the power he still wielded in covering up this atrocity.
One has to ask themselves, with all the toes Joe stepped on, is it a real mystery that two of his sons were shot, left to die on a floor or in a car?
I think John Curran’s masterful “Chappaquiddick” was shown once in Toronto for a handful of critics and distributors. Byron Allen was very smart to pick it up for his new Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures company–it’s going to be a big hit. What he could never have predicted back in September that by now the movie would have a whole new layer of meaning: Mary Jo Kopechne, left to drown in the waters of Martha’s Vineyard in July 1969, was the first #MeToo victim. Her death, suggested here as caused by the late Senator Edward Kennedy, is the paradigm for everything being discussed today.
Curran has made a couple of movies I really liked– “Tracks” with Mia Wasikowska and Adam Driver, and “We Don’t Live Here Anymore” with Mark Ruffalo and Marisa Tomei. He’s Australian and almost 60, so his sensibility is outsider and his interests would be the Kennedys and how power corrupts. The Australian part is lucky because he’s brought Jason Clarke along as Ted Kennedy, and it’s a powerful performance that should put him on early awards lists. Clarke was borbn to play Teddy as it turns out.
“Chappaquiddick” refers to a scandal that in hindsight is stunning that it didn’t end Kennedy’s political career– or put him in jail. Let’s say you’re a fan of Kennedy for everything but this episode. Still, on a boozy summer night — the same weekend that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon–a married but philandering Teddy drove his car off the Chappaquiddick bridge with Mary Jo Kopechne (astute performance by Kate Mara, she’s excellent), a young secretary who’d worked for his late brother Bobby, at his side.
Were they screwing, or just driving around, drinking, having a grand time? No one knows. But the car went into the water and turned upside down. Teddy escaped and did not try to save Mary Jo. He return to the party house where he and friends had been whooping it up, found two of his sycophants (Ed Helms and Jim Gaffigan), brought them back to the scene of the accident. By then, Mary Jo had certainly died.
They never reported the accident. Instead, they created massive cover up that presaged Watergate. The car and Mary Jo were discovered the next morning by passersby. Curran peels the cover up like an orange, and it’s beautiful to watch. Clarke portrays Teddy so ambiguously you almost can’t tell if he’s calculating, stupid, just a lost man child. The result is you can’t take your eyes off of him. Teddy’s scenes with his father– Joe Kennedy after a stroke, wheelchair bound, wordless perfection from Bruce Dern–are riveting.
The Kennedys will not be happy. They may try to kill this film. (In 40 years no one has even tried to tell this story accurately.) Allen will have to present quite a PR front and solid distribution. This isn’t a tabloid story. Curran is damn serious. If Mary Jo as #MeToo victim takes off, the movie will click. This really happened. Ted Kennedy–using his brothers’ assassinations for sympathy–convinced the world that he just didn’t know what happened to this beautiful, smart young woman. “Chappaquiddick” is quite stunning.
Release date is April 6th. More to come, oh yes, when we get closer…
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