Pablo Larraín’s first English language film is the Oscar nominated Jackie, the story of first lady Jackie Kennedy in the days after the assassination of her husband.
After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (Caspar Phillipson) his wife Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) attempts to come to terms with the grief while securing his legacy and planning a funeral that is worthy of his status.
Jackie takes a historical event that caused ripples worldwide and brings it down from a global event to the human story that was at the centre of it and is mostly overlooked. Jackie Kennedy was thrown in to a horrific and extraordinary situation, one which most people will never come close to experiencing, as she not only had to deal with the sudden and violent death of her husband and the turmoil this caused in her life and her children’s but also had to deal with it playing out on the world’s stage. The film shows the realities of what Jackie Kennedy went through as she suddenly wasn’t the first lady any more. Government and politics doesn’t hang around for grief and while everyone around her is trying to sympathise for her and help her, they have to push through the political protocol that a transition of president requires. We remember the motorcade and people remember where they were when the president was assassinated but they probably don’t think about Jackie Kennedy still covered in her husband’s blood while she has to stand and watch as the vice president is sworn in in front of her, or the fact that she has to move her family and things out of the White House as it is no longer her home. The film brings us down and confronts the human reality of Kennedy’s assassination.
Jackie is Natalie Portman’s film and she puts in a wonderful performance for which she should have deservedly won the Oscar. She portrays the emotional turmoil that Jackie Kennedy went through and captures her poise and grace and strength. The camera spends a lot of its time focussing on her face and Portman keeps its attention with a performance that moves through nervousness, devastation, bereavement, power and control. The film and Portman show the huge strength that Jackie Kennedy had in dealing with the event and also in the creation of her public persona and the securing of her husband’s legacy. All the while Mica Levi’s score underpins the isolation and absurdity of the situation through falling strings and haunting woodwind.
Jackie is a wonderfully shot and acted character study of the trauma behind one of history’s most well-known events. Moving, compelling, interesting and brilliant. One of the year’s best.
JACKIE / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: PABLO LARRAÍN / SCREENPLAY: NOAH OPPENHEIM / STARRING: NATALIE PORTMAN, PETER SARSGAARD, GRETA GERWIG, BILLY CRUDUP, JOHN HURT / RELEASE DATE: 29TH MAY