After the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, his wife and the first lady Jackie Kennedy must put aside her grief and trauma in order to secure a legacy for her late husband. Whilst all the while maintaining a public image, caring for her children and regain her faith.
Jackie is not a biopic. At least not like we know biopics. It doesn’t stick to the rigid Wikipedia article esque format that so many Biopics adopt. It doesn’t find itself crushed underneath the weight of the momentous personality or event it depicts. Instead Jackie treats itself as a film. The key is, this isn’t a film about the Kennedy assassination. This is a film that is about Jackie Kennedy and how she deals with the Kennedy assassination. As such this is without a doubt the greatest and most engrossing movie about historical events I have ever seen.
Central to the success of Jackie is Natalie Portman in the titular role, and she absolutely nails it. I have to say I’m not especially familiar with the specific mannerisms and accent of the real life Jackie Kennedy, but crucially I found Portman just slipped straight in and for the entire runtime I was just watching Jackie Kennedy. She becomes this entirely different person to any other Portman performance you’ve seen before. Often without even speaking Portman displays so many layers to this performance. She isn’t just performing as Jackie Kennedy, but performing Jackie Kennedy performing to her friends and the public. All the subtleties of grief and how someone in this position would struggle with how to display this is delivered to perfection. At its heart this is a film about a widow in the public eye and her struggle with the media and her own emotions. Alone that would probably be a performance worthy of awards, add into that though the fact that this is an existing person, and a very mannered person at that, and you have yourselves a performance that is probably too brutal for the Oscars. When the very decent Emma Stone wins we are all going to look back on this as one of the big Oscar shockers of recent times.
Then we come to the other starring performance: Mica Levi and her jaw dropping score. In fact Mica Levi having done the score is the main reason I came to see this movie in the first place, such was the incredible nature of her work on Under the Skin. Once again Levi has worked absolute wonders and adds this whole new dimension to the film. It’s a soundtrack that I have since listened to on its own, and at certain points has drawn tears without imagery assistance. And it’s an entirely different score to that of Under the Skin, whilst still eerie and unsettling Jackie’s score mirrors one person’s flirtations with madness the unsettling nature always coming from a discernibly human source. While the Under the Skin soundtrack sounded almost entirely alien. At the end of the day, this is the soundtrack I’ve listened to the most of any film recently. Not La La Land.
I was completely blown away really. I went in knowing very little and expecting nothing more than an amazing score. What I got was an amazing score, but also a beautiful and poetic portrait of Jackie Kennedy in this specific moment of her life.