To honour her husband’s legacy, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy allows a reporter to interview her a mere week after the president’s assassination.
Director: Pablo Larraín, Pablo Larrain
Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt, Richard E. Grant, Caspar Phillipson, John Carroll Lynch, Beth Grant, Max Casella
Information Page: https://uk.newonnetflix.info/info/80141892
Jackie follows the life of Jackie Kennedy (played by Natalie Portman) during the days after her husband’s assassination. The film’s framing device is an interview of Jackie with a journalist (Billy Crudup) at her home after the assassination. She imparts her story to the journalist to set the record straight about her life and her family’s legacy. She is extremely controlling during the interview, telling the reporter what he can and can’t write about her (even at one point saying she doesn’t smoke while smoking a cigarette). The film flashes back and forth between the interview and the days after the assassination, focusing on Jackie’s grieving. After showing the initial events after the assassination, Jackie tries to stave off a nervous breakdown while grappling with what her life means without her husband. Without him, she almost feels like her life is a waste. To handle this, she becomes obsessed with building the Camelot myth around the Kennedy family. She wants the Kennedys to be remembered as a grand, romantic family with a good legacy. She accomplishes this in part by planning a grand funeral for her husband against the wishes of the secret service, who desire a more modest ceremony for safety reasons.
While the film focuses predominantly, and brilliantly, on Jackie’s mental state, the film does gently question (via an outburst from Bobby) as to what JFK actually achieved in his all too short presidency – ‘Will he be remembered for resolving the Cuban missile crisis: something he originally created?’ rants Bobby. In reality, JFK is remembered in history for this assassination and the lost potential for what he might have done. I would have liked the script to have delved a little bit further into that collective soul-searching.
The film’s central performance by Natalie Portman will no doubt gain great attention for its dedication to every last nuance of Jackie Kennedy’s mannerisms and voice, but the real success rests in Portman’s relentless and layered conveyance of emotion throughout the film. She does not allow the iconic figure to become a one-dimensional reflection of the public’s memory but allows viewers to witness the conflicted feelings of nostalgia, grief, isolation, and tenacity that Kennedy experienced. The film successfully solidifies the lingering of Kennedy’s melancholic face as a fleeting vision set across the 60s horizon, luminous and bruised at once, but enduring through history.
I’d never heard of Pablo Larraín before this film but now he is definitely on my radar as a director, this film is brilliantly made from start to finish and the credit has to go to him for his vision for this film. There are a number of key issues that he gets completely right in the film, if not done right they could have been glaring holes personally for me anyway. Firstly he handles the time period and the subject matter with great respect because it is very sensitive and is one of the most important parts of not only the United States history but of the world as well. Larraín doesn’t glorify the assassination in any way, which could have easily been done, but this film is not about the assassination, it’s about the personal and emotional journey of Jackie Kennedy after the event. Obviously, the assassination is shown in the film but very briefly and is actually talked about more by the characters rather than shown which was an interesting idea. Overall he has made an extremely interesting film which is shot beautifully and directed perfectly.
The score of the film is one of the standouts of the film. It is strangely haunting and sombre at the same time which is an interesting contrast, this is due to the event and the emotional mood of the main character Jackie Kennedy. Its as if the score is an extension of Jackie’s emotions and heartbreak throughout the film, and it definitely delivers in that regard.
As someone who loves history, I thoroughly enjoyed Jackie. For the most part, the facts were historically accurate as far as I am aware. I also really liked the score, I thought it was very refreshing and simply different. The film was slow-paced but I find that’s to be expected with historical films. I liked that the cinematography was simple to give a real sense of the era, and the costume design was great. I also loved how actual footage of the Kennedys was seamlessly slotted into the film.
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