“I never wanted fame. I just became a Kennedy.” – Jackie Kennedy
Natalie Portman portrays Jackie Kennedy in the biopic Jackie. The film follows Jackie’s life in the traumatic days following her husband’s assassination. The film begins with Jackie being interviewed by journalist Theodore H. White (Billy Crudup) writing for Life magazine. The interview is used as a device that moves the story along and even though the interview is a fictionalized version of the actual interview Jackie had with White, it takes an important role in the film emphasizing a duality of her world, real and imagined. During the interview, Jackie takes control, telling White that she decides what will be published, even going so far as editing his notes. Here Jackie, in control, creates her own Camelot, telling her own mythical and heroic version of what happened to the readers of Life magazine.
Incorporating the interview, news footage and recordings allows director Pablo Larraíne to examine the psychological turmoil Jackie suffered. Cinematographer Stéphane Fontaine does a marvelous job in creating a melancholy feeling when you are peering into the private moments of Jackie. There are several scenes where the camera becomes intruding and effective. It lingers on Portman’s face when she is staring into the mirror wiping off blood, when she is in the shower and her husband’s blood washes down her back, and during the collage that shows Jackie in different dresses, walking around the White House as the reprise from the theatrical production of Camelot resonates throughout. These scenes all become voyeuristic and haunting with the repetitive, but effective score by Mica Levi.
Jackie Kennedy is remembered as an elegant First Lady who became a fashion icon and like fashion, Jackie is seen as a woman who had many layers. She was a woman who experienced grief, love and anger while still being poised and intelligent. Portman gives an Oscar-caliber performance, portraying a woman of the 1960’s remarkably well. She converses with drawn out words, pausing at moments that would be unconventional today, and walks with ridged movements, as seen in the first televised tour of the White House re-created in this film.
It’s ironic to see Jackie’s stiff movements during the White House tour and then see her at the end of the film as she drives by a store where mannequins wearing Jackie’s clothes are being delivered. The mannequins represent how distant she really was. The film not only portrays her loneliness but also her determination to have the Kennedy’s legacy established apart from the glitz and glam of a socialite. Nevertheless, Jackie kindled a fantastical characteristic of the Kennedys as she quoted Alan J. Lerner’s Camelot, “Don’t let it be forgot, that for one brief, shining moment there was a Camelot.”
Here’s what OCFS Members thought about Jackie:
“The film was very good. Fully impressed how Jackie handled the funeral procession for her husband.” – Margie Lord
“Jackie was dignity personified.” – Eddie Neuwirth