The assassination of John F. Kennedy is a Pandora’s box of sorts. You delve into its history for the sake of familiarizing yourself with a definitive moment in American history, but end-up being thrown into an abyss.
The facts around the case, coupled with the complexities of Cold-War politics can be overwhelming, to put it mildly. And no matter how far you read into it all, you could never reach a satisfactory conclusion- something always seemed amiss.
I too was, in the not so distant past, an amateur ‘conspiracy theorist’ on the subject, willing to offer my two cents on being prompted. So when the news of a film on Jackie Kennedy- the one who came out of the storm unharmed, if not unmarked- first spread, I was eager to take a trip down memory lane.
There is not a lack of work produced about that day in Dallas. In fact, so much has been recorded over the past half-century, that it would take about the same amount of time to sift through all of it.
However, very little has been said about Jackie in that context. Director Pablo Larraín directs Jackie’s side in the film Jackie. One often reads about her grace and poise (and her controversial second marriage to the Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis).
Yet we seldom hear about her personal trials and tribulations with being one of the most recognised (and followed) people on the planet.
The film follows a non-linear narrative, structured from a series of interviews with Jackie shortly after moving out of the White House. The lopsided chronology accentuates the protagonist’s volatile state of mind, adding an extra dimension to the mood of the film.
The cinematography is also noteworthy, especially the use of colour and technique. From soft pastels and vibrant hues to black and white clips, the sequences move seamlessly from frame to frame.
For a movie named after it’s protagonist, the dependence on a great performance from its heroine is evident. From start to finish, this is Natalie Portman’s show.
She effortlessly settles into the character of a woman forced to deal with such a personal tragedy as losing one’s spouse while in the public eye.
As Jackie, Portman oozes charm. She’s feisty and resolute- determined to give her husband a final hoorah that’ll insure his legacy- but also vulnerable- letting her emotions loose during private moments.
The supporting cast, especially Peter Sarsgaard in his turn as the loyal brother-in-law Robert F. Kennedy, provides the foundation for the leading lady to shine.
Jackie transitions from being Jack’s partner to being the protector of his legacy. She defends his legacy by creating a contemporary version of the Arthurian myth of ‘the Camelot’.