“Ethel” is a Loving Tribute to Kennedy Matriarch

On October 2, Chris Kennedy and his sister, Rory Kennedy, hosted the Chicago premiere of “Ethel,” Rory’s documentary about her mother.

The screening of this remarkable film was attended by Ethel Kennedy and was followed by a Q&A with Chris and Rory, conducted by Bill Kurtis.

Debuting on HBO on October 18, with a limited release before that in New York and L.A., the superb documentary is a portrait of Robert F. Kennedy’s widow, and is directed and produced by her daughter Rory. “Ethel” is a reflection on the 50s and 60s, and is a riveting family story and moving love story. Though it does cover much about the life of Robert F. Kennedy, it also focuses on his vivacious, loving, and free-spirited wife, Ethel. The movie starkly reminds us that the 60s were a time of great turmoil for our country, and we get a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at what went on with some of the most important American figures of the 20th century. The movie celebrates Ethel’s efforts to carry on her husband’s fight against social and civil injustices.

review-ethel-kennedyThe surviving Kennedy “kids” were at first reluctant to participate in the movie, but as narrators they are all extremely charming and add warmth and humor to the film.

What most resonates with the viewer was the love and devotion Robert and Ethel showed for their 11 children. The kids were taken everywhere, including Cape Cod, Hickory Hill, the Senate Hearing Room and on the campaign trail.

While raised in privileged backgrounds, Robert and Ethel made sure that their children were well informed about what was happening in the world around them; they even quizzed the children at the dinner table about current events and imbued them with a passion to give back and serve the country. These were not empty lessons—most of their adult children carry on the ideals of their parents as public servants and humanitarians, which is a fine testament to Ethel’s strength and determination.

“Ethel” is a love letter from a daughter to a mother, but it is also an absorbing and moving film about love, family and an important period in our country’s history.