Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig
Written By: Noah Oppenheim
Directed By: Pablo Larrain
Release Date: December 2, 2016
I could probably count the amount of films I’ve seen about any of our former
first ladies on my right hand alone. While this is a sad fact, this is also
what gives Jackie its sparkle. We all know the story of the assassination
of John F. Kennedy, but we don't really know the story of the woman who
held it all together as America fell apart over the death of one of its most
The film is essentially an episodic re-telling of the week of
John F. Kennedy's assassination, exploring the depths of Jackie Kennedy's
psyche on top of the events of the shooting and its aftermath.
Natalie Portman doesn't just place herself in the role of prim and
poised former-First Lady Jackie Kennedy, simply focusing on her accent
and her perfectly calculated mannerisms; she places herself in the
role of a broken woman overcome with grief. What’s important is not the events
of the shooting itself, but of how it affects Ms. Kennedy while she's telling this
story years after the fact. Many famous photos and interviews of
Jackie Kennedy are portray her as this perfect woman all dolled up with
makeup and fancy dresses, smiling and waving to strangers, so it’s hard to
relate to someone who seemingly has everything they could ever want.
We still love this version of Jackie Kennedy and it’s the one that’s
been celebrated throughout history, but the best parts of the film
are when she sheds that persona for a more human one.
When her husband dies, she’s not only lost him, she's lost herself as well.
After she’s wiped as much blood off of her as possible, she wipes the mirror
and then suddenly, her reflection is gone. Who is she now that she isn’t the first
lady? Even though her husband is gone, she’s still trying to hold together that
seemingly perfect persona that she’s put on for so long. She runs to the bathroom
of the hospital where they’ve taken him and she wipes the blood off of her
face and dress. Moments later, she walks back out composed, demanding to
see her husband’s body. As she continues to go over the events of that day, the
camera is completely level between her and the interviewer. Even though she
goes from smoking a cigarette in front of him to hysterically crying the next,
this is how she is seemingly keeping it all together so that she doesn’t have a full-on breakdown. This is her story and through all the tears, she’ll have it told how
she sees fit as she comes out of a crying spell to tell him to cut out the bit of
her smoking. Instead of her actions coming off as robotic and calculated as
they were when he was alive, they now come off as heartbreaking.
In order to keep her to keep her husband’s name alive, she skips the grieving
process and throws herself into planning a funeral no one would forget.
She does not indulge in her own sadness in order to preserve the feelings of
those around her including her children and the people of America. Her
resilient attitude was what the world needed, but here we get to see the
emotion behind all of her calculated smiles. It’s exactly the kind of film we
need in order to fully understand the iconic woman behind the pink Chanel suit.
While she was out there fighting for her husband’s name to be remembered,
she unknowingly made one for herself. Jackie probably isn’t
the film anyone was really looking for, but it was one
that was needed.