Jackie follows the story of Jackie Kennedy in the days following the assassination of her husband John F. Kennedy. It’s an account of how her world became shattered from the events and quickly her world changed.
I don’t follow history very well, I don’t know that much about JFK, nor do I know much about Jackie Kennedy other than the fact that she was considered a fashion icon and all that. In some ways I feel that’s what the movie Jackie was trying to set out to change. The image of Jackie as this pretty little well-dressed wife of a beloved President. And it really does that. Throughout the film we see Jackie unraveling mental and emotionally, not ever really having much time to grieve as everything in her life is moving forward. She has her husband’s funeral to plan, her children to take care of, the security of herself and her kids, the pressure of the world in terms of press, wondering what her purpose is now that JFK is dead, and the fact that she must prepare to leave the White House. All of this stress on top of the fact that her husband was just brutally murdered right next to her mere hours before. The whole film is just a huge drain of your emotions as you sit there pitying and grieving for this woman since she is unable to really grieve herself, but at the same time you are admiring her strength to carry on and take care of all the changes around her as you see it all taking a toll on her. And it’s worth noting how the camera work does a brilliant job of almost capturing the mindset of Jackie in her body movements and clearly establishing where her mind is at. There’s also moments where Jackie is in rooms alone and you really feel this lost and loneliness that she is surely feeling. This whole aspect is told in flashback form, the present and wraparound story takes place as an interview between Jackie and a reporter (played by Billy Crudup). Personally, I wasn’t too fond of this aspect of the story, in some ways I felt like it slowed it down. Granted the script itself isn’t fantastic by any means (don’t get me wrong it’s still good), but what really carries this movie is the marvelous performance by Natalie Portman as Jackie.
Portman really sells herself in this role. You don’t see her as Natalie Portman in this, you are seeing Jackie Kennedy. Portman does such an amazing job of capturing Jackie’s dialect, but more so it is the physical and facial performances that make Portman certainly deserving of a Best Actress win at this year’s Oscars. She’s so lost in this role and the emotions and mental state of the character are so ever present thanks to this truly marvelous performance. Even though I wasn’t a fan of the wraparound story with the interview, it’s again Portman’s performance that at least kept from really tuning out. It’s in those scenes that she captures the strong poise and often times edginess of Jackie. We are also given fine supporting performances from Peter Sarsgaard as Bobby Kennedy (whom also provides probably his finest performance to date), and Greta Gerwig as Jackie’s friend and confidant Nancy.
While Jackie doesn’t boast a Best Original Screenplay script, it is still an important story worth telling about a woman we never saw the real side of. But it’s Natalie Portman’s terrific performance that really captures this woman and everything she went through and was feeling and how flawlessly she lost herself in the role.