Parents' Guide to


By Jeffrey Anderson, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Fascinating fact-based drama about power and perception.

Movie PG-13 2018 101 minutes
Chappaquiddick Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 1 parent review

age 14+

History from The Depths

Chappaquiddick – From The Depths Engrossing re-telling of some of the unseemly events that led to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne and yet another Kennedy family whitewash, this time, of its youngest son Edward Kennedy. While he may have lost some credibility over this monstrous cover-up, it seems he still shamefully allowed money and political lust for power to triumph over justice. The producers, writers Allen/Logan, and director John Curran (The Painted Veil ’06) don’t shy away from too many facts (but maybe don’t address all) and certainly have a penchant for shining more light on this sordid show of political skulduggery. Performances are very good with Bruce Dern in the physically limited role of J.P. Kennedy Sr. who says it all with his eyes and sharp movements. The backroom Democrat power brokers are included, among them, the suspect (then Secretary of State) Robert McNamara perfectly portrayed by Clancy Brown - along with Speech writer Ted Sorensen, all pulling strings to concoct as convincing an alibi, of bravery-from-cowardice, as was shamelessly sold to the American public. Ted’s cousin Joe Gargan, unsuccessfully attempted to convince Kennedy to admit the truth but these manufactured lies, managed to get Ted many years in office - while it appears Mary Jo’s parents were paid off for their silence. The production design, cinematography, and music score all produce an eerie atmosphere, underpinning the sleazy situations being presented (and hidden) in the sickening world of our most powerful players. There’s an excellent line attributed to Joe Gargan, in response to Ted playing down his own shortcomings by drawing attention to other famous people’s flawed personalities, citing; “Even Moses had a bad temper” with Joe responding; “Moses never left a dead girl under the Red Sea”. This production has a measured pace and while it leaves some questions unattended, still tells an important tale.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (1):
Kids say (1):

Introducing new generations to an infamous historical incident, this drama takes a detailed, matter-of-fact approach; while the result isn't exactly stirring, it's at least consistently interesting. Adding another facet to an already rich selection of Kennedy-related movies (JFK, Thirteen Hours, Bobby, Parkland, Jackie, LBJ, etc.), Chappaquiddick gets points for avoiding preaching and hysterics, as well as anything lurid or racy. A lesser movie could have easily gone down that road, given that the mere word "Chappaquiddick" was often used as an angry political rallying cry against Kennedy during his lifetime.

Underrated director John Curran (The Painted Veil, Stone, Tracks) does a fine job building tension and conveying subtle changes of character in largely static, interior shots. Screenwriters Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan effectively weave facts with fiction. The filmmakers play it like chess moves, showing the step-by-step manipulation of public perception, as well as strategic uses of political power. The movie also gets points for the canny casting of Clarke, an Australian-born actor who manages to both look and sound like a young Ted Kennedy. The rest of the cast is just as good, with a key performance by a sinister Dern, disabled by a stroke but still glaring with ferocious, disapproving eyes. It's just too bad the film can't get past a certain sense of reserve.

Movie Details

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