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Bruce Dern

'Chappaquiddick' review: Selling a tragedy, the Kennedy way

'Chappaquiddick' review: Selling a tragedy, the Kennedy way

A political biopic’s most difficult target lies in the elusive circle above character assassination and below hagiography. “Chappaquiddick” misses that target. But it’s a fairly intriguing mixture of strengths and weaknesses, a case of a sharp cast and a careful director toning up a script best described as “a good try.”

The film speculates on what happened in the wee hours of July 18, 1969, involving Massachusetts Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, better known as Ted, or Teddy, and Mary Jo Kopechne, a former secretary of Kennedy’s late brother, Robert. The facts: The car driven by Kennedy plunged into the water off a pier on Chappaquiddick Island, near Martha’s Vineyard. Kopechne drowned;...