Title – Jackie (2016)
Director – Pablo Larraín (No)
Cast – Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Billy Crudup, Greta Gerwig, Richard E. Grant, John Hurt, John Carroll Lynch
Plot – Follows Jackie Kennedy (Portman) in the aftermath of her husband’s assassination as she comes to terms with his death and the publicity surrounding it.
“I believe the characters we read on the page become more real than the men who stand beside us”
Review by Eddie on 27/04/2017
For those seeking a warts and all biopic of Jackie Kennedy, Pablo Larrain’s Oscar nominated drama Jackie may not be the film you seek but this haunting and unique look at grief, celebrity and a nation defining moment in American history is a film worthy of your attention.
Featuring what is arguable a career best turn by Natalie Portman as the titular one-time first lady, a stunning score by Mica Levi and a noteworthy American debut by Chilean director Larrain, Jackie is a transfixing experience that offers both an intriguing look at the assassination of JFK and the immediate effect it had on both the White House and more importantly Jackie Kennedy’s life as we are shown brief glimpses of the couples time in office and Jackie’s life as she recounts the fateful day of her husbands death to Billy Crudup’s news reporter.
The attention Larrain and his team pay to this time period and detail is impeccable as we follow Jackie along her way through the hallways and rooms of the White House or tragically in the Air Force One bathroom as Jackie cleans her blood splattered face or cradles her dead husband in her arms in the back seat of the presidential motorcade.
Throughout these scenes it’s Portman that remains the focus; she’s the driving force of the film as Robert merely appears briefly in key moments and Larrain’s camera often lingers on his leading lady in close up or for extended periods of time and we as an audience end up feeling like a fly on the wall as Jackie goes about the heartbreaking task of telling her two young children about their dad’s passing or plans for JFK’s funeral procession.
It’s all done and shown in an untypical yet effective manner, we feel Jackie’s pain even if it’s all very far from the usual Hollywood mode of biopics or similar politically tinged dramas. There are no big outlandish moments for Portman to attention grab and no over-dramatized awards baiting moments, while Larrain refrains from big set-pieces, instead focusing on the smaller scale moments with only a relatively misjudged extended White House tour showcase feeling like an overused plot device in a film that’s otherwise plotted out at a neat pace.
A mostly fascinating experience featuring one of 2016’s most fully formed central performances, Jackie is a must watch for political aficionado’s or those that seek their drama with a healthy dose of intensity as Jackie ends up being a shining of the light on a terrible, yet history making time in the life of one of America’s most impressive first ladies.
4 cello recitals out of 5