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Monday, January 30, 2017

Movie Review: Jackie (2016) and Identity

Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig
Written By: Noah Oppenheim 
Directed By: Pablo Larrain
Release Date: December 2, 2016
Rating: A-

My Thoughts:
 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 
beloved Presidents.

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.

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