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John Curran
Jason Clarke, Kate Mara, Ed Helms
Writing Credits:
Taylor Allen, Andrew Logan

In 1969, Senator Ted Kennedy becomes involved in a car accident that kills campaign assistant Mary Jo Kopechne.

Rated PG-13.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 106 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 7/10/2018

• “A Reckoning” Featurette
• “Bridge to the Past” Featurette
• Previews
• DVD Copy


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Chappaquiddick [Blu-Ray] (2018)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 24, 2018)

On the box art for 2018’s Chappaquiddick, it claims the movie tells “the American scandal that changed history”. Usually I’d dismiss that as promotional blather, but in this case, it might be true.

In July 1969, Senator Edward “Teddy” Kennedy (Jason Clarke) hosts a reunion party for the “Boiler Room Girls”, former workers on his assassinated brother Bobby’s 1968 campaign. Eventually Teddy leaves the gathering with Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara), one of these associates.

As they drive about the island, Teddy accidentally drives off a bridge into a pond. Teddy survives this but Mary Jo does not, and a massive political scandal emerges.

Almost 50 years after the events depicted in this film and nearly a decade after his death, Kennedy remains politically polarizing. Still loved as the “Lion of the Senate” by Democrats and still loathed among Republicans, time has not tamed reactions.

As such, Chappaquiddick seems likely to act as a Kennedy Rorschach of sorts. Those predisposed to view him sympathetically will see the film as a gentle explanation of how a great man could endure one colossal mistake, whereas others may take the tale as one that condemns Teddy once and for all.

Though I lean heavily toward the crowd that lionizes Kennedy, I don’t deny the man’s immense flaws, and Chappaquiddick offers a surprisingly well-rounded look at him. Face it: the film easily could’ve become a Teddy-friendly puff-piece that exonerated his actions of July 1969, or it could’ve turned into a brutal attack that painted him as a cold-blooded murderer.

Chappaquiddick follows neither path, but that doesn’t mean it seems wishy-washy or free from a point of view. The film clearly involves some moral judgment of Kennedy, as it shows the many self-serving choices he made over the course of events.

However, the movie also ensures we get a glimpse of Kennedy’s POV. That partly means a sense of the physical/mental damage he suffered in the accident, but it mainly emphasizes the strain of being a Kennedy.

As of July 1969, Teddy had seen two brothers brutally murdered in less than six years, and yet he was still expected to remain above it all and accomplish the “family goals”. That meant a march toward the White House, whether or not Teddy wanted to do so.

Chappaquiddick doesn’t turn into a “poor little rich boy” tale that attempts to excuse Kennedy’s excesses, but it does give a sense of the weight the family name left on Teddy. The film gives us a good sense for the ways this may have weighed on the senator.

Though he looks nothing like Kennedy, Clarke does a good job in the lead. He manages the right level of gravitas and soul-searching – he makes Teddy neither hero nor villain.

Inevitably, Chappaquiddick embraces speculation. After all this time, many of the facts related to events remain unknown, and given that the two main participants died, that seems unlikely to change.

I don’t mind the liberties a ton because Chappaquiddick seems more like an emotional portrait than a factual one. It attempts to get inside the heads of its characters, and in that sense, it succeeds.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus D+

Chappaquiddick appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, this was a positive image.

Only a smidgen of softness ever cropped up here, mainly in some low-light shots. Otherwise, the movie showed nice clarity and delineation.

Jagged edges and moiré effects failed to appear, and edge haloes remained absent. Print flaws also stayed away from this clean image.

In terms of palette, Chappaquiddick went with mix of teal and amber. Overall, the hues were fine for their visual choices.

Blacks showed good depth, while low-light shots boasted nice clarity. This was a solid “B+“ presentation.

As for the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack, it gave us competent sonics most of the time as well as a little pep on occasion. A drama like this didn’t need to boast a rock-em, sock-em mix, so the audio seemed acceptable.

Usually, the soundfield didn’t have a lot to do. This meant it concentrated on good stereo music and general ambience.

Every once in a while, though, the mix came to life – in a moderate manner, at least. These didn’t dazzle, but they gave the mix reasonable breadth.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, without edginess or other concerns. Music appeared full, with reasonable definition.

Effects remained clear and accurate, with some pretty solid low-end response during louder moments. This became a fairly satisfying track for a chatty movie.

Only a few extras appear here, and we find a featurette called A Reckoning: Revisiting Chappaquiddick. It runs 25 minutes, 19 seconds and provides comments from writers Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan, producer Mark Chiardi and Campbell McInnes, production designer John Goldsmith, and actors Jason Clarke, Ed Helms and Jim Gaffigan.

“Reckoning” looks at the project’s origins and development, story/characters, the director’s impact on the production, cast and performances, sets, locations and period details. This becomes a competent overview of some production areas but it leans too heavily on happy talk too much of the time. That makes it more superficial than I’d like.

With Bridge to the Past: Editing the Film, we find a 12-minute, 45-second piece with notes from editor Keith Fraase. He talks a little about his work but he mainly focuses on general filmmaking areas. Because of this, “Bridge” develops into another piece light on insight and heavily on praise.

The disc opens with ads for Hurricane Heist and Winchester. No trailer for Chappaquiddick appears here.

A second disc provides a DVD copy of Chappaquiddick. It includes the same extras as the Blu-ray.

Faced with a controversial subject, Chappaquiddick portrays a surprisingly human tone, and this choice works. Rather than bury itself in the salacious side, the movie delivers an effective view of a tragedy. The Blu-ray brings very good picture along with acceptable audio and bland supplements. I wish we got deeper bonus materials but the movie itself fares better than expected.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.3333 Stars Number of Votes: 3
2 3:
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