Posts Tagged ‘Olivia Thirlby’

The Fourth Son of a Political Dynasty

Chappaquiddick

Director: John Curran

Cast: Jason Clarke, Kate Mara, Olivia Thirlby, Ed Helms, Bruce Dern, Jim Gaffagan, Taylor Nichols, Lexie Roth

Many films have been made about the Kennedys or those related to them, most recently being Pablo Larrain’s beautiful film Jackie featuring an Oscar worthy performance by Natalie Portman.

While The Painted Veil director John Curran’s film Chappaquiddick is no masterpiece and is quite slow moving, it nevertheless remains a fascinating account of one of the Kennedy’s lesser known political scandals.

This involved Senator Edward Kennedy, superbly played by Australian actor Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, The Great Gatsby), who was the fourth son of the Kennedy clan and the only surviving son after his three older brothers died successively.

Chappaquiddick takes place in Martha’s Vineyard in the summer of 1969, two days before American astronaut Neil Armstrong successfully landed on the moon. Edward Kennedy and his cousin Joseph Gargan played by The Hangover star Ed Helms host a small decadent party on Chappaquiddick an island off Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Among the guests is Mary Jo Kepechne played by former House of Cards star Kate Mara who gets fatally entangled with Senator Edward Kennedy.

As the evening progresses Edward and Mary Jo go on a moonlight drive around the island but this romantic venture turns into tragedy when after becoming intoxicated Edward unknowingly drives the car off a low bridge and it plunges into a river and he escapes the accident unscathed, while poor Mary Jo gets trapped in the drowning automobile and dies. The worst part is that Edward Kennedy walked away from the scene of a fatal accident and then later tried to cover it up using his family’s considerable political influence.

Chappaquiddick deals with the aftermath of the tragic event and the engulfing political scandal it could have for the ambitious Senator Edward Kennedy who is desperate to follow in his two older brothers’ political careers with JFK becoming US president and Robert Kennedy becoming a US senator, both of whom got assassinated during the turbulent 1960’s.

What makes Chappaquiddick so fascinating is the way in which Edward Kennedy, with a cool emotional detachment and often seeking advice from his wheelchair bound father Joseph Kennedy, wonderfully played by veteran actor and Oscar nominee Bruce Dern (Nebraska) whose only word of wisdom is alibi.

The patriarch of the powerful political dynasty which is the Kennedys, based at their family compound in Hyannis port, Massachusetts, is determined to protect the Kennedy legacy, despite numerous tragic events and subsequent scandals.

Chappaquiddick is a riveting historical drama about a political scandal which literally gets eclipsed by the men landing on the moon on the same weekend. As compared to Jackie, Chappaquiddick lacks grandiosity and elegance, but remains relevant as to how political scandals are essentially covered up and the flow of information is conspicuously controlled.

Recommended for viewers that enjoy American historical films, Chappaquiddick gets a film rating of 7 out of 10. My only criticism is that sections of the film could have been edited to avoid repetition and the script required insightful dialogue.

 

Foreign Liaisons

5 to 7

five_to_seven

Director: Victor Levin

Cast: Anton Yelchin, Berenice Marlohe, Glenn Close, Frank Langella, Olivia Thirlby

Written and directed by Victor Levin, 5 to 7 is a charming romantic drama set in New York in spring time. Anton Yelchin plays lonely and struggling writer Brian Bloom who one Friday casually offers a beautiful woman a light for a cigarette outside a swish Manhattan restaurant. The lady in question is the gorgeous former Bond girl, French actress Berenice Marlohe (Skyfall), who plays a diplomats young wife, Arielle.

Soon Bloom is captivated by Arielle and she informs him that they can only see each other between 5 to 7pm in the evening. Surprisingly, Arielle’s husband Valery is played by Lambert Wilson and he even acknowledges his wife’s much younger lover. As the relationship develops so does their cultural exploration of each other’s different background, with Levin frequently comparing the best of French culture with the worst of American culture.

Apparently in French society extramarital affairs are the norm as long as the respective mistresses and lovers obey the rules laid down before them. In Bloom and Arielle’s case this is a 2hour gap mainly in which they take in some of New York’s most beautiful sites including the Guggenheim Museum and Central Park along with some elegant Manhattan hotels including The St Regis and The Carlyle.

Arielle is taken to meet Bloom’s doting parents expertly played by Glenn Close (Dangerous Liaisons, Meeting Venus) and Frank Langella (Frost/ Nixon, Grace of Monaco) who are slightly exasperated by their son’s romantic entanglement. Bloom, wonderfully played by Anton Yelchin even seeks the advice of Valery’s American mistress Jane played with tenacity by Olivia Thirlby (Juno, Dredd and No Strings Attached).

As this romance runs its course, Bloom soon matures into an established writer after one of his short stories is selected for the prestigious literary magazine The New Yorker.

Arielle naturally becomes Bloom’s writing muse and once the relationship starts to fade, he is forced to move on with a sort of nostalgic complicity which forces him to write his great novel, entitled The Mermaid.

5 to 7 is a charming Audrey Hepburn style romance seldom seen onscreen these days and more significantly is a sophisticated cinematic tribute to New York itself, which as a city has been the setting for many great romances including Autumn in New York and One Fine Day. Highly recommended viewing, intelligently written and beautifully acted. A rare cinematic treat to be cherished as much as the delights of the Big Apple itself.

 

 

 

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