Rated 3.0

Director John Curran and writers Taylor Allen and Andrew Logan reconstruct, first, the 1969 auto accident on Martha’s Vineyard involving Sen. Edward Kennedy (Jason Clarke) and campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara) in which Ms. Kopechne was killed; and, second, the aftermath as Kennedy, his family, and his political allies went into damage-control overdrive. Allen and Logan’s script sticks scrupulously to the documented record, with the result that the docudrama comes off as neither a hatchet job nor a whitewash, while Curran’s measured, unhurried direction infuses a feeling of authenticity. Performances are excellent, led by Clarke and Ed Helms, who plays Kennedy’s cousin Ed Gargan (coming off as a poor-relation lackey). The movie is not unsympathetic to Kennedy, but he comes off none too well.