Arts Review, Movies
Pablo Larrain, dir.
Noah Oppenheim, script
Starring: Natalie Portman (Jackie), Peter Sarsgaard (Bobby Kennedy), Greta Gerwig (Nancy Tuckerman), Billy Crudup (Theodore H. White), John Hurt (Father Richard McSorley), Richard E. Grant (William Walton), John Carroll Lynch (LBJ)
Natalie Portman appears to be a lock for an Oscar nomination thanks to her riveting performance as Jacqueline Kennedy in Jackie. There’s no doubt that she’s the reason that audiences will flock to the film this December. Portman is absolutely compelling as the widow of the recently assassinated President Kennedy. As the press and the public observed at the time of the President’s death, nothing became Jackie as well as did her dignified comportment during that historic week in late November, 1963 when she had to bring her husband back to Washington D.C. from Dallas and participate in the ceremonial burial of the President. Portman captures Jackie’s demeanour throughout that fraught and timeless period.
Pablo Larrain’s film is structured around Jackie’s first lengthy interview after the assassination, which was with Life magazine’s Washington correspondent Theodore H. White. A Kennedy insider, who had written the best selling The Making of the President 1960, White was charged with the task of printing Jackie’s version of her years in the White House.
As Jackie recounts her famous story, the film pirouettes through the past, offering key events of the Kennedy presidency—including shocking moments of assassination itself.
Jacqueline Kennedy was often a cipher to the public. Her patrician cool made her admirable but also impossible for most Americans to understand. Jackie’s acclaimed televised tour of the White House, in which she showed off her renovations to the Presidential mansion, was received well but most people felt that she came off as a breathy debutante, almost too young to be a First Lady. It was her nearly regal style at the funeral of the President that made the public in the U.S. and the rest of the world truly embrace her.
As Jackie’s interview with White concludes, she spins the tale of her life with Jack as being like Camelot. Though many have refuted the claim that the Kennedy years resembled that of the Arthurian legends, it was her spin that has became part of American mythology. Natalie Portman, who is so convincing throughout the film, is terrific as she makes Camelot seem real to filmgoers—and film critics—now. She has revived the Kennedy myth and created a Jackie for the ages.
Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus
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