After the assassination of JFK (Caspar Philipson) in 1963, Jackie (Natalie Portman) is heartbroken. Stricken with grief and trauma after being witness to her husband’s murder, over the next week she must confront the unspeakable: consoling their children, moving out of The White House and planning a send off for Jack, worthy of a President Of The United States. She soon sees that the next week will decide how history defines President Kennedy’s legacy and how she, the First Lady will be remembered.
This is a biography drama about one of the most important moments in world history, told from the perspective of the iconic Jacqueline Kennedy. She places us in her world for one week, in the days following the Assassination Of JFK in 1963. Renowned for her elegance, dignity and poise, here we see Jackie Kennedy fight to make safe her husband’s legacy in a world that would rather see him quietly ushered out and forgotten.
Natalie Portman (Black Swan) is incredible as the widowed wife of JFK. Tipped for a Best Actress Oscar in February, I wouldn’t be unhappy if she won. From her accent to her posture to persona and speech patterns, Portman has it all. As I was watching Portman as Jackie, it got to the point that it got spooky. For better or worse, Natalie Portman is Jackie Kennedy, which is only made better by the composure of each shot, by director Pablo Larrain (The Club) and cinematographer Stéphane Fontaine (Captain Fantastic).
Portman gives the best performance of her career and it’s truly unbelievable. She is Jackie Kennedy and Jackie is Portman. She is the woman, the myth and the legend. She captures her soul and legendary status. She’s more than just a woman. She’s part of this decades-old celebrity culture in which the Press portray celebrities as storybook legends, especially those that live in the White House, a place that is given godlike status.
Other than Portman, the film also has some good supporting performances, including Billy Crudup (Spotlight) the journalist sent to interview her, from whom the story is told. Also, we have a brooding moody Lyndon B. Johnson played by John Caroll Lynch (The Founder). The rest of the supporting cast includes: Richard E. Grant (Iron Lady), John Hurt (The Hollow Crown), and Greta Gerwig (20th Century Women) with Peter Sarsgard (The Magnificent Seven) as Robert Kennedy.
As scripted by Oppenheim (Maze Runner), Jackie is a complex matriarch, riddled with contradictive personality traits, including being emotional yet cold and pragmatic yet idealistic. During her long chat with journalist Theodore H. White, she’s portrayed as testy, as when she says “are you giving me professional advice?” after he says she’d do well in television journalism. At the same time, Portman depicts the vulnerability in a grieving woman, shattering her façade by getting her to talk about the shooting.
What brings her performance home is my favourite scene in the film which follows the assassination. In this scene, Jackie takes a shower to wash her husband’s indelible blood from her skin and her hair. She then goes to lie in her cold bed alone, with the loss of her husband hitting home once more. This intimate scene is sad, harrowing and truly an experience with in itself. Portman has been silent of late but she has returned with the performance of ages. If you can get to the cinema to watch this, I say great. If not, it’s not such a bad thing but it’s certainly worth the ticket price.