“Jackie” Movie Review

Yeah, Natalie Portman. I see you going for the Oscar in this movie. Seriously, though, she should definitely get nominated for something. That woman is TALENTED! Pablo Larrain’s biographical drama earned critical acclaim and modest box office success after its premiere on December 2nd of 2016. Written by Noah Oppenheim, the plot focuses on the legacy of Jacqueline Kennedy, First Lady to the 35th President of the United States. Rather than showing her entire life over the course of three hours, this more or less concentrates on the media scrutiny she and her family fell under in the aftermath of J.F.K.’s assassination in 1963. Most of her story is told through an interview conducted by journalist Theodore White of Time Magazine.  And this story is both sad and very interesting to see unfold. Despite her brief stay in the White House, Jackie Kennedy is still considered one of the most famous First Ladies in the history of U.S. presidency. You really get the idea that the Kennedys were a highly publicized family, even after the horrible tragedy in Dallas. This is especially considering the new rise of television over radios in those days as the most relevant form of news and entertainment. In front of those cameras and on the screens most often was Jackie herself, putting on a graceful, beautiful, yet almost controlled appearance for the public. So now, after her husband has died, we get to see her when she isn’t so graceful and quite vulnerable. It makes her all the more human and genuine. I wasn’t lying in the beginning when I said that Natalie Portman could score an Oscar nomination for Best Actress this winter. In fact, if she actually won, I would be perfectly happy with the Academy’s decision. There is not a single actress they could have gotten to portray the titular character better, as she brings the right amount of warmth and sadness; not mention, she looks a lot like Jackie Kennedy. In one particular scene, she is on Air Force One wiping all of her husband’s blood and guts off her face while crying in front of a mirror. It felt totally genuine and I immediately sympathized with her. In the supporting cast, Billy Crudup is soft-spoken and understated as a patient reporter, John Hurt shines as a wise old Catholic priest, and Peter Saarsgard’s Robert F. Kennedy brings a bit of familial confliction between all of them. Everyone is relevant and believable in the story of this young woman’s struggle to cope with stardom and fame following a great tragedy. However, no one ever upstages Natalie Portman in this movie, no matter what. The camera work also deserves some commentary for its old school style and uniqueness. Stephane Fontaine’s cinematography is very controlled and anamorphic, the most notable examples being when Jackie or another character are walking down the hallway in the White House. And that brings up another point worth mentioning: the costume design. One thing Jackie Kennedy is known for is that she revolutionized fashion for women in the 20th century, not just limited to the United States. And that influence is shown in this film; the costumes and outfits in Jackie are nothing short of beautiful and brilliant. Covering just about every color in the rainbow in the ladies’ dresses, the men have very polished dulce suits that make it really feel like we are in 1963. The biggest thing holding this movie back for me is the pacing. It felt pretty slow, uneven, and even choppy at times. The directing seemed to lack confidence at certain points in the middle act. I didn’t check my watch or anything, but about halfway through the movie, I started to yawn. Even though it was 99 minutes long, the pacing made it feel like just under 2 and half hours. I feel like this story could have been told a bit better if it were a miniseries on HBO, where you could also find excellent selections such as John Adams or The Pacific. But despite some pacing issues, Jackie is still a smart and compelling biopic about a historical figure who is often overlooked by her spouse. It features some great costumes, pretty camera work, and one of the best lead performances of the year. Natalie Portman will get nominated for Best Actress at the Academy Awards and will probably win.

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