STARRING: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt, Max Casella, Beth Grant, Richard E. Grant, Caspar Phillipson, John Carroll Lynch, Julie Judd, Brody Weinberg, Aiden Weinberg, Mathilde Ripley, Barbara Foliot, Albain Venzo, David DeBoy, Patrick Hamel, Frédérique Adler, Stéphane Höhn, Sunnie Pelant, Sara Verhagen, Georgie Glen, Roland Pidoux, William Beaux d’Albenas, Nicolas Guigou, David Friszman, Eric Soubelet, Cragi Sechler, Emmanuel Herault, Serge Onteniente, Rebecca Compton and David Caves
Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband’s historic legacy.
Jackie tells one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, through the yes of the then First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy. We’re thrown right into her world immediately following her husband’s assassination, fighting to establish her husband’s legacy whilst keeping together her dignity and poise.
Jackie is a film directed by Pablo Larraín (his first to be shot in the USA and his English language debut I believe) and written by Noah Oppenheim (The Maze Runner and Allegiant), focusing on one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, through the eyes of Jacqueline Kennedy.
There has been some serious Oscar buzz for Natalie Portman’s performance in this film and after coming out from the screening, I must say that the buzz is warranted. Portman completely immerses herself in the role, considering that Jackie Kennedy, at times, her public life in general was a performance, you can see how Portman mentally processes what to say or do in certain situations through facial expressions and mannerisms. She’s essentially the glue that keeps the film together right through to the end as we go through the journey of a woman dealing with the death of her husband, how she copes with not only having to move out with all their belongings from the White House, but deal with two children that lost their father and also attempt to solidify her husband’s legacy. Stéphane Fontaine’s cinematography work is also excellent here, particularly when they re-create the ‘Tour of the White House’ with that old camera feel is very well done, as well as the use of locations with the wide shots and the score from Mica Levi completely elevates the film at the right moments. If anyone got a vibe of the score from Under The Skin, it should be no surprise that they felt that since Levi scored that film as well. In terms of the supporting cast, Billy Crudup is his usual reliable self, giving the film the most genuine scenes as his journalist character interacts with Jackie though the course of the film.
While the performance from Portman is terrific and the cinematography and scores are also great, I couldn’t help but feel cold watching the film as Larraín has the film structured in a way that it feels like a nod to Terrence Malick whilst also being jarring in terms of holding my interest. The main problem is the focus put into the zoom-in to close-up shots of Portman’s face, to the sometimes mistimed editing (especially when talking to John Hurt’s priest), we’re made to feel like we’re in Jackie’s headspace and yet it never feels like we are.
With a terrific performance from Portman, great cinematography and a wonderful score, the film just never captivated my interest outside of Jackie’s interactions with the journalist and also reliving her husband’s assassination. Everything in between is a task to watch due to the editing and story structure. 5/10