Jackie, directed by Pablo Larraín (Neruda, The Club), tells the true story of Jacqueline Kennedy’s (Natalie Portman) turmoil during the aftermath of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas, Texas, 1963. The film begins with Jackie answering the door to a journalist to interview her days following President Kennedy’s death. The movie progresses along with the interview by using flashbacks from the day of the shooting to the days up to the interview; all are from the perspective of the former First Lady.
Throughout the movie, we see Jackie’s state of mind before, during, and after her husband’s death. Before President’s Kennedy’s death, Jackie is shown as the perfect wife, infamously known for her poise and dignity. She was focused on the perfect image of the Kennedy family, often compared to the perfect image of Camelot. However, the Camelot era of the Kennedy family quickly deteriorated with JFK’s death, combined with the emergency presidential inauguration of Lyndon B. Johnson.
After his death, Jackie had the pressure of everyone around her to arrange a proper funeral for President Kennedy. However, she wanted everything done her way, and no one stopped her from doing what he wanted; an extravagant procession. Along with funeral arrangements, Jackie was losing her faith. There are a few scenes in the movie showing a profound discussion she had with a priest (John Hurt).
In these scenes, we see the real Jackie Kennedy as she tells the priest that every night since her husband’s death, she wishes she was dead. However, as the interviewer asks her questions and writes his notes, she constantly told him to keep almost everything she said off record. Even at the end of the interview, she went through his notepad to rewrite or cross out his notes that she did not want the public to know. After President Kennedy died, she really did not change personality-wise. Jackie still cared about what the public thought of her family and of her. No matter what, she wanted to sustain that perfect Camelot era of the Kennedy family, which in reality, could no longer be kept.
Jackie Kennedy—portrayed by the Academy Award winning actress Natalie Portman (Black Swan, Léon: The Professional)—gave one of the most utterly brilliant performances I have seen from an actress since Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in Silver Linings Playbook (2012). Portman is without a doubt, one of the best actresses of our time.
I found Portman’s role of Jackie Kennedy strangely similar to her role of Nina Sayers in Black Swan (2010). Both characters showed extreme psychological intensity as a strong female character; and that is what will earn Portman’s second Best Actress Oscar for her role as Jackie. Portman is also deserving of the Best Actress Oscar for her accuracy of portraying Jackie Kennedy. I was impressed by Portman mastering of Jackie’s accent, her walk, and her poise mannerisms. Portman’s commitment to this role reminds me of her commitment to the demanding role in Black Swan; which she had to train for six months to properly portray a ballerina.
I am confident that Portman will also win the Golden Globe; her competition does not come anywhere close to being equivalent or better than Portman’s performance. I found every scene of Portman’s acting impressive, however there is one scene that sticks in my mind profoundly. After Kennedy is shot, Jackie’s face is covered with his blood. On the plane, as she cries for the loss of her husband with red, tear-filled eyes, she heaves with deep sobbing breaths as she wipes the blood with a white cloth. So far, with the performances of the actresses of the 2016 film season, I favor Portman’s performance in Jackie the most.
The screenplay of Jackie was extremely well done, especially how the storyline was executed overall. I really liked how the events of the movie progressed alongside the interview. By the screenplay being sequenced as it was, it gave the audience the best insight of Jackie. I was also drawn to was Stéphane Fontaine’s genius cinematography by using Super 16mm lenses to give the movie a classic 1960s look; as well as his seamless incorporation of real footage of the Kennedy’s and Lee Oswald into the movie.
This is one of my favorite factors of the whole movie. It reminds me of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight (2015) cinematography, in which he used 70mm film to give his movie a similar classic look to Jackie.
Overall, I give Jackie 4.5 out of 5 stars as it is at the top of my list of my favorites movies of the 2016 film season. My awe of Natalie Portman’s talent and how she commits to her roles 110% will never stop. I look forward to her (hopefully) winning the Oscar. After her immense research for the role that created her remarkable performance, she deserves the award.
Written by Alyssa Weinstein