Natalie Portman brings a respectful gravitas to her portrayal of Jacqueline Kennedy in Jackie. Pablo Larraín’s drama follows Jackie in the days after the assassination of her husband, John F. Kennedy in Dallas on 22 November, 1963. This is a performance picture, which keeps its audience hooked on the small moments, even when they might already know the broad-strokes of the story.
Jackie is framed around the widow’s interview with a journalist and it’s through this device which we get to see her begin to build the legend of JFK and Camelot (fascinating in itself). Told in a variety of flashbacks, Larraín shows us Jackie in various forms, ranging from distressed to resolute. Noah Oppenheim’s script gives Portman a lot to work with and her performance is strong, even if it’s a bit to head-on, accent-wise at times. She’s given an impressive supporting cast to work with, sharing the screen with Billy Crudup, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Richard E.Grant and the late John Hurt.
Jackie hits the mark on the acting scale, but it also scores very high on a technical level too. Mica Levi’s score is exceptional and Stéphane Fontaine’s cinematography is stunning, seamlessly matching some well chosen stock footage to augment the narrative. They merge to create a tonal void, that at times feels like horror film in the mould of The Omen, Don’t Look Now or Rosemary’s Baby. Larraín’s film makes you feel uneasy, but it doesn’t have the fearful edge of a fright pic. This might be awards bait, but it’s well sculpted awards bait.
The blu-ray of Jackie features a documentary which shows how they created the film’s sets and how the story and film developed (producer Darren Aronsofsky was originally set to direct). It’s a strong piece, but it could have been a little longer – it clocks-in a little over 20 minutes