Jackie: I will march with Jack, alone if necessary.
We have all heard of the assassination of US president J.F. Kennedy, some of us learned about it in high school history, and some of us actually remember what they were doing when they heard the news. But how many of us stopped to think about how did Kennedy’s wife Jackie felt when sitting next to her deceased husband and in the days that came after. Chilean director Pablo Larrain is trying to portray what went on in her head trying to deal with the death of her husband and attempts and preserving his public image.
The role titled “The journalist” played by Billy Crudup can be associated with a real life journalist Theodore H. White who sat down with Jacqueline Kennedy on December 1st, 1963, nine days after the infamous assassination, in order to get her side of the story. And this interview is exactly what takes the audience through the events of the movie. One can comfortably say that Portman’s portrayal of Jackie is worth talking about, it is a mixture of robot like manoeuvres, a practice expected of public female figures in the sixties, and a genuine feeling of loss and grief, it does not watch as an impersonation but more as a sort of reincarnation. Natalie Portman definitely steals the show and the other actors play mere background to her grand story.
The only way Jackie can be described is eerie and hauntingly intense. Picture of the assassination itself are intertwined with pictures of the famous White House tour from 1961, a scene that definitely deserves some attention as Larrain went to extensive troubles to shoot the scene so that it gives off the sixties vibe, so it looks and sounds right, and one might say that he nailed the scene. The audience is guided through the events of the assassination and the following days leading up to the funeral through series of questions from the journalist that triggers Jackie’s memories and so the story progresses.
Throughout the whole film Jackie does not really interact with the other characters that much, making her a lonely figure in the time of a great loss. There is obviously the journalist who is interviewing her, but her answers do seem to be somewhat distant as if she is not really talking to him. The other person Jackie truly engages with is the Priest, portrayed by the lately deceased John Hurt, who just like the journalist triggers more of Jackie’s memories of her life with J.F. Kennedy, taking her back to happier memories of the private concerts and dances they had at the White House. It is never quite indicated when those events really took place, but it is not really that important as the whole film is a walk down the memory lane of one Jacqueline Kennedy, the first lady, the wife of J.F.Kennedy. Even though the film tries to show her side of the story Jackie is still portrayed in relation to her husband, as if that is all she ever was, someone’s wife. Other characters try to be there for Jackie such as Bobby Kennedy, her brother-in-law, played by Peter Sarsgaard and Greta Gerwig’s Nancy Tuckerman, who are both great companions to Portman’s Jackie, but they do not really influence the story that much. They are there to provide immediate support to Jackie, but one can never see them make a real connection.
One can question Jackie’s need for a grand funeral for her husband, but her believe in the matter is mesmerizing. Each person deals with loss and grief differently and Larrain’s Jackie is an insightful look into Jackie’s attempts at dealing with her husband’s death. The film is based on real life events, even though some of the dialogues had to be imagined, but watches more like a fiction, which just feels way too real. Taking the audience to the very core of the White House following grieving Jackie as she wanders about the house, she for some time gets to call home, showing symptoms of the audience’s voyeurism. Over all Jackie is a solid period drama about a million times discussed topic from a slightly new angle.