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Review - Jackie

By midlandsmovies, Jan 30 2017 04:52PM

Jackie (2017) Dir. Pablo Larraín

Covering the immediate 4 days in the aftermath of John F Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, this new biographical drama stars Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy and the whirlwind of emotions directly affecting her in the wake of this national tragedy.

Clearly doing her homework, Portman does a great impression of the widowed first lady although her ‘breathy’ tones were so over the top I headed to view more footage of the real-life Kennedy who does in fact enunciate in such a way.

With the fashionista look and vocal imitations down, Portman infuses the protagonist with a sense of steely nerve yet troubled nervousness and apprehension when the ‘society’ mask slips.

The film is structured around an interview conducted by Billy Crudup who prods and probes in an attempt to find the real woman behind the public façade as Portman’s assured Jackie attempts to confirm her husband’s place in history whilst only letting her guard down in brief flashes of honesty. Supporting her throughout is Peter Sarsgaard as Robert F. Kennedy and her White House helper Greta Gerwig as Nancy Tuckerman but Jackie is resigned to fighting for herself against the machinations and intentions of the Government – who want a smooth transition to maintain US political stability. This occurs at the same time as JFK’s body is moved and autopsied and many scenes show clashes of emotion played against the blunt actions of the authoritarian administration

A couple of unlikely cameos from Richard E. Grant as William Walton and the late John Hurt as Father Richard McSorley are physical manifestations of Jackie’s turmoil and focus the audience on the questions of life, death and meaning in the wake of a tragedy. In this instance, one that is played out in front of a national audience.

With a constant shift from public to private, and back again, director Pablo Larraín films many of the scenes in a Kubrick-esque one-point-perspective which both signifies institutional structures but maintains the focus on the lead performance as the world spins around her.

Culminating in a hard-fought battle for a colossal state funeral, the film shows the lengths in which the Kennedy name was to be protected for the future and were still being struggled for even after JFK’s death.

With a shining central performance from Portman who, along with the obvious tics and mannerisms, delivers a dominant performance of Jackie’s innermost thoughts, the film follows a period of personal interest to me but will hopefully gain traction with others. As an important part of history, and even with my particular bias (JFK is one of my favourite movies of all time), Jackie is a rare insight into the private world of a very public figure.

Mica Levi’s amazing score only serves to highlight the themes of loss, family and bereavement and Jackie feels like a focused project whose plus points are extremely well earned.


Midlands Movies Mike

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