ONE of the most important moments in American history is retold beautifully by Pablo Larrian and portrayed by Natalie Portman with such subtlety and élan, that it throws the whole autobiographical movie genre on its head. Andrew Riley looks at Jackie for Quays News.

Interspersed with archive footage, I defy anyone not to be moved by this film. It is at once both intense and moving, as well as giving a different perspective on the loss America (And Jackie) felt.

Surrounded by the controlling Kennedy clan, she struggles to come to terms with her loss as well as explaining to a reporter her side of the story.

Portman shines in probably her best role since 2010’s “Black Swan” as the First Lady who united a nation following that day.

As one of the most famous women of the last century, a lot has been written and committed to film about Jackie Kennedy since the assassination of her husband in Texas, but Larrain avoids any of the stereotypes you usually see in these nostalgic movies, and allows Portman to shine as the woman driven to despair as she loses her husband.

Natalie Portman as Jackie
Natalie Portman as Jackie

Shot partly in flashback, we see the Kennedy White House through the eyes of a woman who wasn’t blind to her husband’s faults, but who also understood just how important his legacy would be, and, by association, her own.

When she asks the reporter (Played by Billy Crudup) to tell her what he’ll write, and then she tells him (despite spending most of the film doing it) that she doesn’t smoke, he seems to understand that this is more than just an interview.

This is no glossing of her life, but a stark portrayal of her life in the weeks following the death of John F. Kennedy as she speaks to a reporter from Time magazine at her home.

The late John Hurt in one of his last roles plays Jackie’s priest as she prepares for the reburial of her two children, as well as trying to establish her husband’s legacy in the days and weeks following.

When he tells Jackie that he wonders what it’s all about himself sometimes, she looks shocked, until he qualifies it by saying “We all do. Then we get up, make a cup of coffee and get on with life.” He almost steals the entire film.

Particularly harrowing is the scene in the car as the President is shot and she cradles her dead husband’s head in her lap while trying to hold his head together on the way to the hospital.

This is not a film that pulls any punches, and it’s all the better for that. There is no attempt to make light of what happened, but more to show just what pressure she was under from the minute JFK died.

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