It is said that history is written by the victors. I would say that statement is true, but history can also be written by powerful men in dark rooms. On July 18th, 1969 on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts history was indeed written by the Kennedy family after Ted Kennedy was involved in a one car accident that claimed the life of one Mary Jo Kopechne. At the time the Kennedy family’s power was still close to its peak, as Ted was seen as the next Kennedy to occupy the White House . It would take forty-eight years for someone to tell that story, that someone would be Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan.
The truth was far from being told soon after the accident, as a different story was being written, one that fit the Kennedy’s needs. Ted (Jason Clarke) has known his future for some time now and while he may not want it to come true there is really nothing to stop it. Nothing though other than a evening car ride on a dark road, one that would change many lives forever. After Ted lost control and ran off the road into the bay, he escapes the vehicle, but his passenger Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara) is no where to be seen. Kennedy climbs out if the water and walks back to get his cousin Joe Gargan (Ed Helms) and family friend Paul Markham (Jim Gaffigan), both lawyers and takes them back to the scene of the accident. After the fail to get to Mary Jo they decide the best thing to do was for Ted to alert the authorities and face the accident head on. After getting advice for Joe Kennedy (Bruce Dern), Ted instead goes to bed leaving the accident to find him. After finally giving a statement in regards to the accident, Ted then returns home to the Kennedy compound where the events of that summer evening is rewritten and told in a more favorable light for the Kennedy family.
It is easy to fall down the Chappaquiddick hole as you can read all kinds of conspiracy theories about what happened that evening. Allen and Logan did not dive into any of those, but instead relied mostly on a deposition that all involved gave a few weeks after the accident. Using the over thousand pages of testimony, Allen and Logan were able to piece together enough details to tell a pretty convincing story of what happened that evening. Sure there are gaps in the story and they chose to leave those gaps because lets face it, only two people know what really happened that evening. The story follows the day of and ends with Ted addressing the nation to tell his version of the event. Clark, plays Ted as someone who could not stand up for what was right, even though the right thing is what he truly wanted to do. Ted wasn’t the strongest of the Kennedy brothers and Clarke plays him perfectly in that manner. Helms and Gaffigan prove once again the talent comedians have in playing a drama role. While the those three carry the film for the most part, Mara and Dean while having smaller roles, their presence is felt just as much. A lot of time has passed since this story and the Kennedy flame is no longer blowing as bright, this story still has the claws to grab into you. “Chappaquiddick” is not a perfect movie, it does have a perfect story worth hearing. Combined with good performances all the way around, this is one story worth reliving.