Movie Review: Jackie (2016)

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Plot: Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband’s historic legacy.

Focusing on the aftermath of one of the most defining moments in American history, Jackie, as I’m sure you know by now, focuses on what Jacqueline Kennedy had to face following her husband’s assassination. It is expertly and cautiously approached. There are careful hints at the infidelity of JKF, though accusations are never outright thrown. The focus is on Jackie, and the horror she experienced witnessing a bullet travel through her husband’s skull while she was right next to him. It is shown that even while their marriage probably had a few cracks, she was as drawn to the man as the rest of the world and certainly depended on him. The film is shot in an eery way, making her fragile state of mind a visible shot.

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Natalie Portman shows her impressive acting abilities to the fullest of their extent. Jackie is vulnerable yet in control, she’s learnt to master her emotions in the public eye. Her outbursts are private and only with close confidantes. Her beautiful friendship with Nancy Tuckerman (Greta Gerwig) is shown and how Nancy was one of the few people Jackie Kennedy could trust and rely on. There is also a really close bond with Robert F. Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard), who is forced to take control of the situation while grieving his brother.

Yet for all the excellence in directing and acting I had no lasting emotional attachment to the film. It did make me think of more than the assassinated president – it is impossible not to sympathize with Jacqueline Kennedy’s plight. The horror she had to go through – the immediate and the prolonged effects of being ripped from your life. Sudden death will always be a complete shock to the system, and facing the grief for a lost one on such a public stage is beyond our “normal” people’s comprehension. It is difficult to remain interested in a film where the main event has already passed. The assassination is briefly shown on screen but the aftermath is the sole focus. It is admirable, it is excellently portrayed, but it is never thrilling and there is no climax. I was impressed, but not moved. It is worth a watch if only for Portman’s admirable portrayal of Jacqueline Kennedy, but personally I won’t be rushing to get another view in of this film.

Have you seen it? What did you think?

Rating: 7/10

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