Jackie

January 1, 2017 at 7:31 pm | Posted in 2016 | Leave a comment
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This slightly odd and deeply moody film is the work of Chilean director, Pablo Larraín. I have not seen any of his other work, so I don’t know how to evaluate this one within a context. Covering the first few days after JFK’s assassination, the story follows Jackie Kennedy as she deals with the shock, plans the funeral, deals with various people in the White House and gives an interview. The interview serves as the framework for her reflections on those first few days. Outside of that loose structure, the film felt somewhat wandering and tangential, moving through various discreet scenes without creating a clear plot. That said, story does not appear to be Larraín’s main intention here. Rather, he seems to want to create mood and, to that end, every scene is imbued with a deep sense of sadness, longing, bitterness and rage. This version of Jackie, played beautifully by Natalie Portman, is very very angry at just about everyone. I have no idea how true that was but she makes for a compelling character. In fact, it was hard to not be taken in by Portman’s Jackie. This role is likely to earn her an Oscar nomination and maybe even the win. She is so vulnerable and strong at the same time. You get a sense that Jackie was always seething just below the surface of her polished exterior but that, in the days after her husband’s death, she couldn’t help but let some of the anger leak out through the cracks. Portman does an uncanny job of becoming Jackie, which is a good thing given that she is the entire focus of the film. Other talented actors like Peter Skarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup and John Carroll Lynch are scarcely used. Even JFK is a minor character in this story, though I will say that they found the most remarkable look alike to play him in Danish actor Caspar Phillipson. This is Jackie’s film and, as such, it rests largely on Portman’s performance. Given how strong it was, that should have been enough but the disjointed story left her performance adrift. In the end, we had an hour and a half of Jackie emoting. As compelling as it was to watch in many ways, it never felt very impactful.

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