28th Aug2018

‘The Senator’ DVD Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Jason Clarke, Kate Mara, Ed Helms, Bruce Dern, Jim Gaffigan, Olivia Thirlby, Clancy Brown, Taylor Nichols, John Fiore, Gillian Mariner Gordon, Katie Henoch, Lexie Roth, Angela Hope Smith, Vince Tycer, Victor Warren | Written by Taylor Allen, Andrew Logan | Directed by John Curran


The Senator, also know as Chappaquiddick in its domestic US territory has had a somewhat quick and lukewarm release internationally, yet garnered relatively positive reviews. The topic of Chappaquiddick itself is deeply tragic and mesmerizing moment of US history involving Ted Kennedy. Whose surname may give away his notoriety be known as the brother of US President John. F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Little is truly know about that fatal night of Friday, July the 18th, 1969, in which Kenndey veered his car off the side of bridge into the cold water of Chappaquiddick with insufficient facts and figures brought to the public and private attention surrounding the vent, clouding any real truth that can really explain the events that unfolded. There is all but one definitive fact that often goes unnoticed and forgotten in this infamous event. The death of 28 years old, Mary Jo Kopechne, who was the passenger in Kennedy’s car, whose life was taken, while she drowned trapped inside alone, gasping for air, neglected.

As stated above the facts are relatively clouded surrounding that haunting night. The beats are somewhat known, yet, the time between is still left, quite shockingly so, ambiguous fifty years after the fact. Its a thread the film itself terrifically plays with within the context of a plot that’s far more suggestible than a matter of fact. It undoubtedly allows the film to breathe regarding both structure and plot, not to fictionalise events that unfold but to arouse suspicion to leave the audience with a feeling of doubt and questionable attitude with the official story told. Dramatically and thematically speaking the film revolves around the ideas of privilege and martyrs, not necessarily surrounding politics but also in gender and ethnic background. The levels of severity and morals are questioned in a considerably dark and deep manner, not only of warped public reception but also in what the film proposes in a terrifyingly easy ideal of a mangled press.

The most profound and heartbreaking aspect of Chappaquiddick is the devastating ignorance of the death of Kopechne and the silent fallout that surrounded the celebration of her life contextually within the film due to the high profiled manner of her death. Even at her funeral, any form of regret and devastation is swiftly interrupted with a violation of ego and good press from Jason Clarke’s superb portrayal of a man lost into a fabrication of political royalty. Even suggestable to consider that any Kennedy after JFK’s assassination was plunged into a domestic and international hemisphere of notoriety. Kennedy’s mind is incomplete traumatic tatters, self-inflicted or hereditary?

The audience is left to decide, but his naivety of the situation is the most devastating aspect, having to be reminded at every step of worming his way out of the devastating controversy that Kopechne is the victim here, only to be in the same breath forgotten by the same man, who holds the responsibility for her death. Politically speaking, the film is rather neutral, taking no firm ground, considering the political-cultural fallout before and after the events. It breaches on such with what will be a considerable controversial last few minutes that asks the question after the controversy has begun to fade into the midst of capital hill, would you still vote for Ted Kennedy for president of the united states, the overwhelming answer? yes.

It leaves a shocking and dark bitter taste in the wake of the tragedy and vindication of Kennedy, who was never truly punished for his crime. What arises is the questionable morality that is still a fundamental thread in politics to this day, and unfortunately the current age of political culture we live in today, no matter the political side one leans towards repressed information and fabrication of true is so rife and shocking. Comparable to that of a metaphorical umbilical cord to the facade of political, personal agenda, asking – whats truly the difference between them?

The Senator is available on DVD now.


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