Monday, 16 January 2017


The assassination of John F. Kennedy is one of the most well-known events of modern history. When most people consider the aftermath of his untimely death, attention is usually drawn to Lee Harvey Oswald and his subsequent murder, and light is rarely shone on the intimate details of his family and widow. Jackie delves deeply into a previously shallow part of this time in history, and stands as a powerful and sombre biopic about a grieving widow struggling in the public eye.

Following her husband's assassination, Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) is left to try and hold together her life in a time of despair and confusion. Jackie explores the former First Lady's immense loss and different stages and experiences of grief, as it darts between her time in office before the assassination, the event itself, the immediate aftermath and an intimate interview a week onwards. Between arranging her late husband's funeral and explaining to her children why daddy isn't coming home, all while being berated with advice and consolations from advisors, this film follows the titular Jackie in a truly sad and tumultuous time.

In a film named after a character, there is no doubt going to be a massive focus on the actor or actress playing them. In the case of Jackie, Natalie Portman is tasked with exploring the complicated emotions associated with grief and loss. From struggling to remain composed and poised in the public eye, to frantically breaking down and sobbing in private, Natalie Portman greatly achieves this much needed range and carries the character throughout the entire film. Rarely can the facial expressions, dialogue and reactions of a single character render an entire theatre gobsmacked, but Natalie Portman absolutely does so in her performance as the former First Lady. This isn't even considering her imitation of Jackie Kennedy's signature accent (which she totally pulls off, by the way).

The entire film is wholesomely engaging and awe-inspiring. With a fragmented story darting back and forth between various events both before and after JFK's assassination, the audience is kept on their toes and engaged with what is unfolding. While the movie and Jackie's intimate interview (which serves as a base-line for the film's narrative) are based on a real interview conducted a week after her husband's death, we cannot be sure that all the intimate details of the story are true. This being said, even if Jackie's actions in the movie are stretched slightly beyond the truth, no doubt the grief and sadness emanated throughout them are accurate, and seeing these emotions displayed so beautifully on the big screen really hits home. Accompanied with a sombre and simple orchestral soundtrack, the mellow tone of the movie is really driven into the audience to great effect.

This movie carries great parallels between beauty and pain, from constantly contrasting Jackie's life before and after the assassination, to her comparison of her husband's time in office to a real-life Camelot. Through this same vein, Jackie is a great example of a movie which finds beauty in sadness, and is wholeheartedly engaging the whole way through. If you are prone to cry, bring some tissues, and prepare yourself for a performance that will no doubt snag a Best Actress Oscar nomination for Natalie Portman.

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