A rather revealing and surprising drama centred on Jackie Kennedy in the days following her husband’s startling assassination, Jackie boasts a strange intimacy courtesy of splendidly immersive direction from and an impeccable performance from Natalie Portman.
A week after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, his wife and First Lady Jackie(Natalie Portman) reflects on the days from before and after her husband’s murder to an Unnamed Journalist(Billy Crudup) . She goes through a varying range of emotions following such a trauma; like the fact that her whole life is now changed, how to cope and how she is to be perceived by the shocked general public . The main thing that weighs on her mind is that her husband won’t be remembered and will be forgotten in history. She makes it her mission to ensure his legacy and uphold a sense of tradition, while dealing with the huge emotional fallout of losing her husband. Jackie finds some comfort in the presence of a Priest(John Hurt) and secretary Nancy Tuckerman(Greta Gerwig), plus some conflict with her almost broken up brother in law Robert(Peter Sarsgaard). Plus there is also the government who have their own views on how best to do Kennedy’s funeral, which don’t run in line with Jackie’s. Along the way, she reveals herself to be a lot more than just the glamorous wife of the President and a woman who could be a truly powerful force. The Reporter who interviews gets a lot more than he bargained for as Jackie is a lot more complex than he ever thought she could be.
Pablo Larraín jumps straight into the sorrow of grief and the impact of it; clearly not afraid to go to the dark places of such an event. He pulls no punches with how deep he plunges us into one woman’s mind and his direction is striking in its close proximity. A swirling camera that penetrates with slow, uncompromising close ups of The First Lady and places us firmly in the kaleidoscope of grief and chaos that hits with full force. I also appreciate the cinematography that goes from dark to highly lit and has moments of old news grain to make it authentic. Things like this always impress a review such as myself and I think it adds to the experience of Jackie as a whole. I think what Jackie really accomplishes the most is shedding light on a particularly famous figure and making us see them in A mournful and deeply moving score from Mica Levi fits the film exquisitely; capturing the upheaval of grief and the vacillating personality of its titular subject with a sense of grandeur and palpable intimacy.
Front and centre of Jackie is a truly astonishing and totally believable performance from the always committed Natalie Portman . She plays Jackie as a lady who knows that every eye is on her and has grown to know when to put on a smile and when to behave. Portman delves into all facets of this icon; from the grace and decorum to the anger and steel that are rarely glimpsed by the general public. A lot of it is in the eyes that showcase such deep feeling in this time of confusion and the on point voice that is truly a marvel to hear with its hushed refinement and low sense of authority that slowly comes through . It’s a truly complete performance that sheds new light on an iconic figure. All of the impact is all down to the fine work of Natalie Portman, who delivers one of her finest roles. Peter Sarsgaard is effective as the devastated Robert Kennedy whose mood changes in mercurial fashion and look out for Greta Gerwig as a secretary who provides support to the grieving titular lady. John Hurt, in one of his last performances before his passing, brings out a stately yet approachable quality as a priest . With his authoritative voice, he is a confidante to Jackie and though he can’t provide any absolute answers on the quickness of life and harshness of death , he provides an authentic and warmly sage rumination to the grieving widow at the centre of the film. Hurt was always an impeccable performer and his turn here may be small, but it packs an impact. Billy Crudup provides the eyes and ears of the piece as the journalist getting a lot more than he expected from his interview. The supporting cast is well assembled with talent but Jackie is truly Natalie Portman’s show and she more than rises to the occasion.
A striking and impactful drama that studies grief, tradition and one of the most famous women to grace the planet, Jackie is extremely fascinating filmmaking from Pablo Larraín with a stunning central turn from Natalie Portman.