Jackie – a movie review by Roz Tarszisz
For those who remember the day President John Kennedy died in November 1963, this biopic will bring it all back.From the haunting, sometimes dissonant, score to the images of the dignified First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy (Natalie Portman) director Pablo Larrain has created a tour de force.
The story opens with a journalist – he is never named, played by Billy Crudup – arriving at the Kennedy family compound in Massachusetts to interview Jackie just after she had moved out of the White House.
Weaving back and forward in time, a picture is built up of cultured and rather shy woman who has to be reminded by her aide Nancy Tuckerman (Greta Gerwig) to smile when she’s on camera. Jackie’s mission was to show Americans that real people had lived, and were still living, in the White House.
The images of her covered in her husband’s brains and blood appeared around the world as did those of Jackie and her two young children at the funeral.
Jacqueline Kennedy was a public figure whose life was under constant scrutiny and she conducted herself with grace and dignity. As she answers her interviewer, with the memories still raw, she is savvy enough to insist that she will have final approval of his copy.
Brother-in-law Robert Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard) provides strong support after the assassination and with preparations for the state funeral. It’s all the more poignant as we know he will also be gunned down a few years later. Jackie’s insistence of walking the coffin to Arlington Cemetery was a logistic nightmare to organise but she holds firm – underneath that beautiful exterior she is tough and focused. John Hurt plays the Irish priest who gives her strength when she needs it most.
Structured around Theodore H. White’s LIFE magazine interview, Portman is riveting as the woman with distinctive flair for fashion and she, and the film, must be strong contenders for the Oscars next month. In a final scene, there’s a glimpse of a mannequin dressed like her – in a neat and ladylike suit crowned with a pillbox hat.
This moving portrait of a grieving woman places Jackie firmly centre stage as the aftermath of the tragedy unfolds. Watch and remember.
4.5/5 Released 12 January 100 mins 2016 Rated MA15+
Starring Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt
Directed by Pablo Larrain
Written by Noah Oppenheim
Music composed by Mica Levi