Jackie (2016)

3:52 PM

Behind Closed Doors.
 Jackie is directed by Palo Larrain (The Club, Neruda) and stars Natalie Portman (Black Swan, V For Vendetta) and Billy Crudup (Rudderless, Almost Famous). "Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband's historic legacy". Jackie has earned 3 Oscar nominations - including Best Actress - at a time where the definition of your usual President is being challenged, will Jackie remind the world what it means to support your country?

I didn't expect this film to hit me as hard as it did - I honestly thought this was going to be a run-of-the-mill biopic about Jackie Kennedy that was Oscar bait - nothing more, nothing less. However, this film really got to me and I left the cinema very very sad. I didn't expect this film to be as real and raw as it was - it does have its problems but this is yet another film this awards season that does not fail to impress. 

Central to Jackie is Natalie Portman's performance - talk about Portman's performance has been circulating ever since the film first premiered and before La La Land's release, Portman was the favourite to win Best Actress. I think this is a fabulous performance - Portman transforms into Jackie Kennedy in this film and I was very convinced. Portman speaks like Jackie, walks like Jackie, looks like Jackie and has mannerisms like Jackie - she is basically a reincarnation of Jacqueline Kennedy. This is like the Oscar version of character acting - if only Johnny Depp chose more sophisticated roles and he could get an Oscar nomination for every role he plays. This film really relies on Portman - if she is bad, the film would be bad - this film can only be as good as Portman's performance. There are essentially no other important characters to comment on - Portman is central to this film, central to how good this film - this should definitely revive Portman's career a little and remind everyone what a talented actress she is. 

I didn't actually know too much about the story of this film before going in - I didn't know when it was going to take place in Jackie's life but it basically takes place during the aftermath of JFK's assassination - but a behind closed doors look. This really is a character study of a widowed wife/mother going through grief - it doesn't matter too much on one level that this is The First Lady - it actually suggests and shows that Jackie is human just like anyone else so makes her even more relatable and likeable. Then there is the element of Jackie being a strong woman who was determined to get what she wanted - do her husband justice. Jackie didn't want JFK to just be forgotten, she wanted him to have a legacy and be remembered - she stood with him. I actually think the film showed how much of a legacy Jackie Kennedy has left - she had a big impact on society also. The story did start to lose me in the third act where things started to slow down and became a little bleaker but it's rare for a film to get each act perfect. 

This film has a pretty unique style which sets it apart from other biopics or character studies - most of the film is shot through close ups which physically represents what we are getting - an invasive and close up look as Jackie's life through this tough time in her life. This creative decision was a little unsettling at first which I suppose is accurate considering Jackie was going through a pretty unsettling time herself. The film also did a good job of giving itself quite a dated and period feel to it - the camera quality felt more like a documentary so it felt like it did take place during the time it was set. I also liked how they recreated the documentary and some of the found-footage - it made it seem even more real. A special nod should also go to the set and costume design which were all very good - the film was and looked sophisticated, smart, grand and pretty beautiful. It is important to also note that there is one scene that is incredibly graphic - the SFX makeup is done very well but the scene is very brutal. 

What really got me about Jackie however, was how powerful and hard-hitting it was. I briefly touched on this but this film gave a very upfront and raw look at Jackie Kennedy's life throughout the grieving process of her husband. The part that hit me hard that I could relate to was when Jackie had to tell her children the news of what happened - it was done in such an authentic and realistic way that I think will hit home for lots of people. I think anyone who has suffered from loss in their life will be hit and touched in some way by this film as it brings well and captures all of the emotions pretty perfectly. I don't want to get too personal or put a downer on your day but Jackie did to me what no other film has been able to do so powerfully - it brought me back to probably the darkest day in my life yet - all the emotions came back and I had to call my mum straight after watching. I could probably write a good length on why this film touched me but I think the main point is that it's so raw and so authentic, don't be surprised if you can relate to some of the things The First Lady went through. 

Jackie is a pretty good film - I haven't really highlighted any negatives in this review other than a slower and therefore weaker third act. The thing is, Jackie has no major problems but it's not an amazing film - it's a pretty or should I say, very good one. The cinematography is inventive with meaning, the performance at the heart of it from Natalie Portman is outstanding and possibly my new pick for Best Actress. This film hit me hard and it's going to take me a while to forget it. In a time where politics is up in the air, a film like Jackie helps to remind us of the Golden old days where everything seemed much more simple - even though the character herself was not going through a simple time at all. Jackie does Jacqueline Kennedy justice and I would recommend you see it. 


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