Shocker: new movie about Chappaquiddick tells the truth

The power of the Kennedy clan seems to be fading, no longer able to prevent the production of an indie film that no only tells the truth, but which has earned the praise of the show business bible, Variety. Steven Hayward of Powerline spotted the anomaly:

I paid no attention to the fact that Hollywood was producing a biopic of Ted Kennedy’s famous “accident” at Chappaquiddick in 1969, and would have assumed that it was a typical gauzy pro-Kennedy puff piece if I had known. But Variety magazine, the main trade journal of Hollywood, offers a review that not only says that the forthcoming movie Chappaquiddick is suitably harsh on Teddy, but that he—and the Kennedy reputation—deserve it:

The film says that what happened at Chappaquiddick was even worse than we think. Kopechne’s body was found in a position that implied that she was struggling to keep her head out of the water. And what the film suggests is that once the car turned upside down, she didn’t die; she was alive and then drowned, after a period of time, as the water seeped in. This makes Edward Kennedy’s decision not to report the crime a clear-cut act of criminal negligence — but in spirit (if not legally), it renders it something closer to an act of killing.

The entire review is well worth reading here. It turns out that Variety has been following the progress of the movie for quite some time now. Recall that the family patriarch Joe Kennedy was a major force in Hollywood, and kept one of the biggest female stars, Gloria Swanson, as one of his mistresses, while sons Jack and Bobby enjoyed the favors of Marilyn Monroe, herself also the biggest female star. That is clout!

But the clout may be dissipating. The family was able to sideline a truthful miniseries on the family, relegating it from ABC to the Reelz cable network, where it made little impact. But would Variety go out on a limb this way if it felt any pressure?

We’ll be keeping an eye on the distribution this movie receives. But in today’s environment, theatrical distribution is not even necessary. Pay-per-view audiences are more than capable of bringing profit to independent films. But smart film distributors ought to realize that there is substantial audience out there hungering for truth about the Kennedys.

It’s not as if the Kennedy family bench is very impressive. Caroline’s plans to run for office were torpedoes by her own inarticulateness. Who’s political future is at stake in protecting the reputation of the man who was euphemized as “the lion of the Senate.”