Movie Review: Jackie
Date Viewed: February 4 2017
Directed By Pablo Larrain (Tony Manero, Post Mortem, The Club, No and Neruda)
Written By Noah Oppenheim
Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Max Casella, Beth Grant, John Hurt, Richard E. Grant, Caspar Phillipson and John Carroll Lynch.
She was one of the most extraordinary, important and influential First Ladies of our time but this intimate portrait of Jacqueline Kennedy following the days after her husband's assassination could've gotten better treatment but nevertheless, "Jackie" is a fine biopic that shows Oscar-winner Natalie Portman in glamorous form. Directed by Pablo Larrain (Tony Manero, Post Mortem, No, The Club and Neruda) and written by Noah Oppenheim (The Maze Runner), "Jackie" has the feel of a tragically strange dream but only this one centers around a famous U.S. First Lady.
Set of course in 1963 during the days after JFK's assassination, Jacqueline Kennedy (Portman) is left reeling and struggling to figure out what to do about her late husband's presidential legacy and their "Camelot" world they created together. "Jackie" also shifts back and forth between Mrs. Kennedy's tragic days as a widowed First Lady and her interview with a magazine journalist, Theodore White (Billy Crudup).
Emotional feelings swirled around Jackie's mind during her tumultuous time, she was filled with anger, guilt, responsibility confusion and loss. Feature film biopics go through difficult bike road paths but if they have a brilliant director at the helm, a screenwriter who understands the material and an impressive ensemble cast, they can be turned into great movies like "Lincoln", "Selma", "Patton" and "Gandhi". In "Jackie" however, the supporting players like John Carroll Lynch (who plays LBJ), Peter Sarsgaard (who plays Robert Kennedy), Max Casella (who plays Jack Valenti) and Richard E. Grant (who plays William Walton) don't look like their historical counterparts at all and they don't have much to do. Sarsgaard may have a significant role in the story but I think he is miscast as Robert Kennedy. Only Portman emerges strongly as Jacqueline Kennedy and she gives an enthralling performance. Her work here in "Jackie" is more impressive than her work in "Black Swan" which won her a Best Actress Oscar.
Portman also captures Jackie's sway personality and body language and the last thing I'll say is that she's never been better. The costumes by Madeline Fontaine are great to look at, the cinematography by Stephane Fontaine is lavishing and the movie has good behind-the-scenes details about Jackie's heart-wrenchingly difficult days but much of the movie is way too devoted into recreating famous historical moments like LBJ taking the oath of office and Jackie watching in horror as she witnesses her husband get shot in the head and I wish "Jackie" could've been more instead of just being a pressing documentary disguised as a feature length film.
Despite it's flaws and the miscasting in several of the supporting players, Natalie Portman fires on all cylinders as Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy and "Jackie" I believe has shot all of the other upcoming First Lady biopics right out of the water.
The production is something else. The script is not the best and jumps and shifts are making the viewer (especially if you don't know much about the details of the story) frustrated more than curious. With that said, it's fresh to see something different and it works out OK after all. I was curious about the way Natalie spoke. The weird accent and the mix of calmness and uncertainness in her voice. I found some old interview and found out that she - not surprizingly - absolutely nailed it. Her performance is good, the other cast also deliver. Solid music and straigh forward camerawork mostly is just enough but never more.
OK film, but the true star here is Portman. You could tell that she put alot behind this, and the fact that she dared to take the role is a archievement itself.
6 out of 10 blood stains.