Nutshell: A moving portrait of a woman in the spotlight, going through an indescribably painful time, Jackie paints a moving picture of grief and survival thanks to a touching, time-shuffled story deftly directed by Pablo Larraín, and a masterful performance by Natalie Portman. Grade: A
“I’ve grown accustomed to a great divide between what people believe and what I know to be real.”
Story: On November 22, 1963, John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated. His young wife, Jacqueline “Jackie” Kennedy, had to deal with his death, his funeral, his burial…and how to move on from, and out of, the White House.
Genre I’d put it in: Heart Tugging Biopics
Remake, Sequel, Based-On, or Orignal: Based on the real-life Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
Gotta say: Growing up only knowing Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis, she was an enigma to me. After watching Jackie, I believe that was intentional on her part. A woman who never sought the spotlight – “I never wanted to be fame. I just married a Kennedy” – but nonetheless ended up one of the world’s most fascinating women, the movie Jackie shines a light on who she might have been. While as of this post there has been no information on how the Kennedys feel about the film, I believed the personal this film creates. A woman who felt she had to be one way in front of the cameras, only allowing her true self to shine through in private.
And Portman delivers an amazing performance. As the story jumps from the assassination to the aftermath, to the White House tour Jackie hosted in ’62 to a private interview she held after JFK’s assassination (labeled “The Journalist” in the film, but ostensibly LIFE magazine’s Theodore H. White, played by Billy Crudup), Portman delivers a devastatingly pitch-perfect performance. She portrays Jackie as a woman who had to craft her husband’s legacy while deep in the anguish of losing him. All the while, Larraín moves the plot here and there, taking us through that time by stream-of-consciousness, almost as if we’re in Jackie’s head as she’s living it. It’s a powerful film, and an incredible biopic.
It also showed me something I’d never known; that the idea of “Camelot” as an adjective to describe the Kennedy White House wasn’t something that was coined during his presidency, but after it. Specifically, by Jackie herself. In a scene where Jackie must get herself together before the funeral, she walks the halls of the White House as the song from the musical plays in the background. As she tries on outfit after outfit after outfit, all the while clinging to a bottle as if it’s her lifeline, the pain, horror and resolution of Jackie Kennedy shines through. It’s heartbreaking and powerful scene, a microcosm of the movie itself. Jackie is destined to take its place among the great biopics in cinema. It’s a staggeringly beautiful, poignant film that has a subtle strength. Like the woman herself.
#Protip: If you’re interested in the White House Tour or the original interview published in LIFE magazine, here you go.