It’s true, it’s true, Pablo Larraine has made it clear. JACKIE is one of the most striking films of year!
Narratively, visually, acoustically – JACKIE takes the biopic into a shattering and totally satisfying new stratosphere.
The director of No, The Club and Neruda, all made in his native Chile, has moved north to fashion a fabulous film about a fairy tale time that became known as Camelot.
In mythical Camelot, that fine round table land of noble knights and fine ladies, the winter was forbidden till December, but for Kennedy’s Camelot winter came far too early, in November, 1963; exit the twenty second with a fatal shot.
Writer Noah Oppenheim retells this fabled story with its infamous finale solely through the eyes of Jacqueline Kennedy, structuring the film around Theodore H. White’s LIFE magazine interview with the First Lady, that took place a mere week after the assassination of her beloved husband, United States President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
It’s a narrative device that has been employed before, but seldom more effectively or imaginatively, as Larrain chronicles Camelot via the First Lady as she recounts the immediate aftermath of her husband’s assassination; the hurried swearing in of Vice President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, her return to the White House, arrangements for the President’s funeral, and her time spent accompanying her husband’s coffin on Air Force One and again to Arlington Cemetery.
The exquisite casting of Natalie Portman in the lead role produces a portrait of a woman conscious of playing a part on the national and international stage, as much a public figure as her husband, or any Hollywood star, an outwardly poised partner who was placed under great scrutiny, yet played her role with consummate grace.
It’s an invocation, an evocation, effective and affecting, from the breathy articulate annunciation to the steely resolve of the soul beneath, the inner poise of the public person, a grieving woman, a witness to her husband’s murder, a widow and mother struggling with overwhelming tragedy and attention. It is a consummate performance of private grief.
Superlative support is rendered by an outstanding cast. Greta Gerwig is perfect as Nancy Tuckerman, the White House Social Secretary and Jackie’s right hand woman.
Peter Sarsgaard impresses with an unimpeachable essay of the slain President’s brother, Bobby.
The ever reliable and bold Billy Crudup balances sensitivity with objectivity as the journalist who becomes the recording angel of Jackie’s account of events pre and post Dallas.
Textured turns by John Hurt as a priest, Richard E. Grant as Camelot confidant, Bill Walton, Beth Grant as Ladybird, John Carroll Lynch as LBJ all add significantly to the rich tapestry of the picture.
Stunning to look at, the cinematography has a sensational ethereal quality. With JACKIE, director of photography Stephane Fontaine has the double honour of photographing two of the most electrifying female performances of the year – Natalie Portman and Isabelle Huppert who pipped Portman at the post in the Golden Globe Awards.
JACKIE also boasts an exceptional aural quality, a part of which is Mica Levi’s eerie music score. Absolutely awesome.
In short, there’s simply not, a film worthier to spot for robust talking ever-aftering than JACKIE.
It gives a person pause.