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Rated 3.15 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
What Really Happened
by Diana Saenger

Many of the Baby Boomers of 1969 were invested in our political leaders as well as involved in good times, raising children and exploring each new invention that came along. They began following the Kennedy Family beginning when John Fitzgerald “Jack” Kennedy was elected the 35th Presicent of the United States from January 1961 until his assassination in November 1963.

During Jack’s reign and after, the Kennedy family was usually in the news. Maybe it was about his older brother Joe Jr., a Navy pilot killed in action. Or John’s years in the Senate and trying to keep up with his father’s wishes. Parties on both sides followed his campaign for President and what new country he would be visiting. Then there was Jackie, who also had plenty of her own news worldwide.

So what is Chappaquiddick about?

It begins on the day Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke), U.S. Senator from Massachusetts and the youngest Kennedy son, sets out for a break at Martha’s Vineyard near Chappaquiddick Island. He takes along a few of his married aides, cousin Joe Gargan (Ed Helms), and Paul Markham (Jim Gaffigan). But what fun would that be without some girls -- not including his pregnant wife Joan then on bedrest. Ted invites six girls in their 20s who worked on Bobby’s presidential campaign and are nicknamed “Boiler Room Girls.”

When Ted feels closed in at their party, he decides to ask his brother Bobby’s former aide Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara) to take a ride with him. She agrees even though they were not in a relationship. From that point on, everything goes wrong. It gets dark. Ted gets upset, drives crazy, and crashes into a lake. He escapes from the car under water but can’t free Mary Jo.

 Things go downhill from there for Ted who refuses to do what his huge team of professionals suggest. He’s also dealing with anger from Joe, his father (Bruce Dern). As Ted squirms to fix this, it is also apparent he has definitely lost his chance as the next U.S. President.

Director John Curran and writers Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan have put together an interesting movie of mystery that includes great actors who portray their characters very well.

However, the writers did make a few changes from the original incident.

“It was important for us not to portray her (Mary Jo) as a damsel in distress,” Logan said. “We wanted to show, even in a time of great crisis, she was poised. And she was somebody who had great courage and who had a lot of promise ahead of her.”

Described as a thriller, Chappaquiddick gives those who were around at the time -- but may have short memories of what happened or never knew the entire story -- a chance to see it on the big screen. Anyone with an interest in America’s history or who never heard about this incident should also find it very interesting.

Chappaquiddick earned a Best Screenplay Award Nomination at the Miami Film Festival.

(Released by Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures and rated “PG-13” for thematic material, disturbing images, some strong language, and historical smoking)

Review also posted at

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