A number of Films have been made about one of American history’s darker moments, President John F. Kennedy‘s assassination. Few great ones however have been made about widow Jackie Kennedy and the aftermath of his death. Giving us unparallelled access to the ill-fated former First Lady in her most vulnerable state, Pablo Larraín‘s JACKIE takes us right into her mindframe with a glimpse into her two years in the White House up to the days following her husband’s killing.
Thanks to a sublime performance from Academy Award winner Natalie Portman, who is operating at the absolute highest level of artistry here, truly we get to know better Kennedy as a woman, a wife, a mother and First Lady rather than the beloved culture and fashion figure she otherwise is known.
Despite being wounded emotionally and suffering silently when her world crumbles all in an instant, Portman places Kennedy’s elegance and grace first and foremost always. In the face of great tragedy, we see Kennedy cope with her loss in being consumed completely with a tribute deserving and fit for her late husband. We see her, against her wishes, being advised to go into hiding and witness how protective those around her become including brother-in-law Bobby Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard) and Social Secretary Nancy Tuckerman (Greta Gerwig). Through it all, she retains a silent strength and fire not often seen about behind closed doors and an irrepressible hunger to protect her husband’s honour and legacy in her well-known and heavily-guarded interview with LIFE‘s Theodore F. White (Billy Crudup). Carefully, she controls and cultivates her and her family’s facade to the world and so successfully JACKIE gives us the woman behind that interview than just the woman in the interview.
Stéphane Fontaine through some exquisite cinematography, enhances Larraín’s focussed storytelling and Noah Oppenheim‘s fine script. Madeline Fontaine‘s costume designs are perfect, connecting these characters that much closer to the story and the individuals they are portraying. JACKIE is so much more than a Film about a tragic moment in history, it is about a woman’s journey to coping and surviving in the most dire of circumstances. Despite the Film being the furthest thing from a fairy tale, it finds the beauty in Kennedy‘s struggle and the dignity and strength she gave a nation in grief.
Fox Searchlight release JACKIE Friday, December 9, 2016 in Toronto and it releases wide Friday, January 27, 2017.