December 29, 2016
Jackie (***) R
After years of false starts, Jackie, writer Noah Oppenheim’s take on Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, has finally made its way to the big screen under the careful direction of Pablo Larrain. It’s a laudable effort to be sure although some might be a bit disappointed that the film only covers a sliver of the title character’s life, choosing to narrow its focus to the days preceding and following the murder of husband/ president, John F. Kennedy, in November 1963. Those looking for a fully-fledged biopic aren’t going to find it here. Then again narrowing the focus can sometimes work in the favor of a film that’s attempting to tackle such an iconic figure as the former first lady.
Natalie Portman essays the title role in the pic and she’s simply terrific, capturing the physical presence and mannerisms of ‘Jackie’ to a tee. Portman has proven herself to be a capable actress over the years in such films as the Oscar winning Black Swan, but here she amps it up even further in her superb performance. Her work is certain to get Portman some attention when awards nominations are announced but that shouldn’t come as any surprise.
Natalie Portman on the set of Jackie
And yet Jackie, the film’s central character as depicted in the screenplay, is also one of the film’s minor weaknesses. Portman’s embodiment in the role never really allows for the movie version of Jackie to become the fully fledged human being that you want her to be. It’s a great performance and you can’t really fault Portman, who’s clearly giving it her all. It’s just that the script never manages to burrow quite as deep as you’d like in spite of the fact that it does prove to be illuminating from time to time. Only not as often as one might want or expect.
The film’s story is framed around Jackie granting an interview to a reporter (Billy Crudup) who is attempting to craft a story around the tragic events of November 1963 as seen through Jackie’s eyes. The bulk of the tale is mostly related in flashbacks as Jackie relates her take on the those events and tumultuous times.
Jackie scores very high in the technical department with a special nod to the outstanding score by Mica Levi. The supporting cast is also top notch, particularly Peter Sarsgaard’s turn as Bobby Kennedy and John Hurt as a priest in which the widowed first lady confides. It’s just too bad that Jackie doesn’t cut a little deeper on an emotional level and that’s something that all the good casting and technical contributions in the world can’t remedy.
Jackie is playing, as of press time, at the Regal Manor Twin in Charlotte.
Questions or comments? Write Adam at firstname.lastname@example.org.