Following the shocking death of John F Kennedy, Jackie follows the patriotic look at his wife and then First Lady, Jackie Kennedy, in an intimate biographical drama seen through the eyes of Jackie (Natalie Portman) as she tries to come to grips with her husband’s death.
The film itself is an incredible tragedy that shifts between flashbacks and and present day, focusing on three distinct scenes. One, a newspaper columnist interviewing Jackie herself, another being the day of the tragedy and what occurred immediately after the assassination, and the third being a televised tour of the White House when her and Kennedy were in office. The way these three scenes complement and play off one another is cleverly done and makes this a nicely layered drama with some interesting scenes.
Natalie Portman does a terrific job in emulating the tone and inflection in Jackie Kennedy’s iconic voice and some of the scenes portrayed, although never hitting the dizzying heights she managed in Black Swan, are still amazing to watch and her ability to make audiences empathise with her and feel her pain is nothing short of extraordinary.
If I have one gripe with Jackie, its that those new to this tragedy and story will end up being confused. John being referred to by his nickname, Jack, is never once mentioned to audiences and might find some scratching their head wondering who “Jack” is, only realizing later on that they were indeed referring to John F. Kennedy.
There are other references to events going on including “Bay Of Pigs” (A failed mission in Cuba), “Lee Oswald” (the man alleged to have killed JFK) “Jack Ruby” (The ex. police officer who shot Lee Oswald) and more are all mentioned in passing conversations but never fully explained to audiences shy of a few minutes or footage on a black and white TV in the fore or background of scenes, if at all. While this doesn’t necessarily make Jackie a bad film, for those outside the US, I can’t see this having quite the same impact as it might for Americans due to the confusion over some of these.
Overall, Jackie is an incredibly powerful biography that paints a picture of Jackie Kennedy and her powerful demeanour in the face of adversity. Natalie Portman absolutely does the character justice and her performance elevates this whilst maintaining the difficult to achieve accent the character in question was famous for. It does play out a little too intelligently for audiences but it’s a great watch and a fascinating character study.