PLOT- Directed by Pablo Larrain, Jackie is a biopic of former first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy (Natalie Portman), focusing on the days surrounding the assassination of her husband and her drive to preserve his legacy.
LIKE- Jackie is micro in scale, primarily focusing on a few weeks in the Jackie's life, however the themes are enormous. Jackie is not only a grieving widow, but one who feels the immense pressure of preserving her husband's legacy. His presidency was brief, and she fears that he will soon be forgotten by the American public, that the sacrifices of the Kennedy family, will have been for nothing. She obsesses over this, comparing her husband to other slain former presidents. She struggles to figure out the best way to honor her husband. Jackie is a very private woman and a protective mother, yet she wants the world to see her family; her a grieving widow and her children, fatherless. She wants the destruction left behind by the assassination to be public. It's the complexity of Jackie's character that makes the film so compelling.
Days after the funeral, Jackie invites a journalist (Billy Crudup) to her home in Hyannis Port, so that she can tell her side of the story. Much of her story is told "off-the-record" and she makes it clear to the journalist that she also comes from a journalism background, and understands how to shape her own story. Early in the film, her attitude comes across as aloof and calculating. She is very venomous towards the journalist, yet I think that comes from her feeling that people constantly underestimate her, especially her intellect. Jackie is a woman with something to prove. There is this absolutely beautiful twist at the end, where Jackie explains why it's so important to her to have this carefully crafted story. It's quite profound and was this turn that made me leave the theatre with chills.
I didn't immediately believe Portman as Jackie, however, within the first twenty minutes of the film, that dropped away, and I was in awe of her performance. The best moments are when Jackie is alone and unhinged, including a very memorable montage done to a song from the musical Camelot. It's unsettling. Speaking of unsettling, the score has this reoccurring sound (I believe it's a violin or some type of string instrument) that is disorienting, creating a vertigo type of effect. Although Jackie is Portman's film, Peter Sarsgaard as Bobby Kennedy is another stand-out. Assuming this is faithful to history, I had no idea how much sway Bobby Kennedy had, and it was interesting to see the dynamic between the Kennedy's and Johnson's during this transition.
The film is often quite glamorous, with Jackie's stylish wardrobe and her upper-class poise. This makes for a shocking contrast to the grizzly descriptions and visuals of the JFK assassination. So startling, that I physically jumped in the theatre when the first bullet hit Kennedy. The image of Jackie in her famous pink Chanel suit covered with her husbands blood is horrific.
As the world feels increasingly precarious and as we just had our craziest election ever, Jackie is a timely film. It's a reminder of the importance of the presidency and of the presidential legacy. It's also a reminder that the families that live in the White House are ordinary people, living under extraordinary circumstances.
DISLIKE- Nothing to dislike. Jackie is a gut-wrenching and enthralling film.
RECOMMEND- Yes. Jackie is great storytelling and a film that will stay with you long after you exit the theatre. It's sure to garner many award nominations, especially for Portman.