Film Review: The Senator

Whilst it’s a truism that Americans like their politics, they absolutely adore their political dynasties. The Clintons are the latest in a line of families who have coveted the most powerful seat in the country. However, whilst the Bush clan are their closest recent competitors, it will forever be the Kennedys who inspire such love and devotion in the USA. Whilst this might be largely down to the tragic deaths of Bobby and Jack, they remain the most prominent and iconic. However, they are not without their skeletons. This is the focus of John Curran’s new film, The Senator.

Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) is the senator for Massachusetts but struggling to break out of his late brothers’ shadows. He arranges to meet his cousin Joe Gargan (Ed Helms) and the US Attorney for Massachusetts Paul Markham (Jim Gaffigan) at Martha’s Vineyard, insisting that the Boiler Room Girls (Bobby Kennedy’s campaign staff) are invited. After leaving a party with Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara), he drives his car off a bridge. He escapes but she drowns. Ted flees the scene and begins to formulate a plan to deal with fallout.

The Senator is a sobering tale of how money and power corrupt, as can the pressure of having to live up to expectations. It’s no surprise given the current political climate in the States that the American people still idolise such a family. The fact that Ted Kennedy went on to serve in the Senate for forty years is another shameful indictment of a nation. The film itself is a well-made biopic of the most pivotal moment in his life. The acting is good, particularly Helms, and whilst the accuracy of the story is debatable, it the kind of entitled behaviour not entirely uncommon today. The Senator does a great job of illuminating one of the less salubrious moments in American political history.

The Senator is released on Digital HD on 13 August and released on DVD by Signature Entertainment on 20 August.

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