This review was written by Anthony J Digioia. Follow him and his website here for more awesome reviews: SilverScreen Analysis
“Jackie” stars; Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy, Peter Sarsgaard as Bobby Kennedy and also stars Billy Crudup, John Hurt and Greta Gerwig.
It’s directed by Pablo Larrain and follows the immediate days and couple weeks following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. While the world was dealing with the loss of a president, Jackie Kennedy was also dealing with the loss of her husband, and suddenly forced into a handful of different directions as many decisions are thrown at her while she is still in shock over what happened. Reeling from the loss of her husband she still must figure out how to move on with her life, while being at the center of the public eye with everyone watching her every action.
Like I said I was looking forward to this film mostly for the performance of Portman and she did not disappoint. She carried herself like a First Lady and she was able to perfectly capture the range of emotions the film displayed. She was very defensive at times, seemed on guard to some, was torn about many decisions she was suddenly forced to contemplate, while at the same time possessing some insecurities and indecision, and Portman was excellent in conveying it all with effective realism. She easily carried this film on her shoulders, it was her best performance in my opinion and she should be nominated for Best Actress.
The direction from Pablo Larrain was very good, you could see he clearly had an artistic vision for what he wanted this film to be. The set design, wardrobes, and backdrops, were all effective in capturing the time-period and he was able to create some excellent vintage looking footage to give it the impression of being actual archival material and it was enjoyable to watch. The color palette to this film was relatively washed out and it fit the mood of the theme very well in my opinion, and it also helped make Jackie stand out. He captured a polished backdrop for each scene but nothing to pull your eye away from her character and I thought it was well done.
I thought the acting was solid from top-to-bottom, Crudup and Hurt come in with some strong performances and Sarsgaard was okay but he felt a lot like himself and not as much like he was playing the role of Bobby Kennedy, although he was serviceable given his overall imprint on this film.
Now with all I have said about this movie that I enjoyed, overall it was only okay and that was disappointing to me. This was a text-book character study and some will love that. Some people know a great deal about the Kennedy era and all the events that took place, but if you are going into this movie looking to learn more about this famous First Lady you may be disappointed.
In regards to story, it lacked a great deal of cohesion. It plays out almost like a series of vignettes and without a decent flow between them, myself for example, enjoyed for the most part what I watched, but wasn’t full engaged. I could feel the magnitude of what happened after the assassination as she is forced into so many different directions and it was gut-wrenching to watch, it was interesting at times, but didn’t grab me. The dialogue could have had just a little more substance to it to keep things from feeling glossed over in the conversations.
I wasn’t expecting a pure informative story but I was hoping for a little more continuity, and this one played out more like an expanded montage of the events that that took place. I also had issues with the musical score, it was a great one, but did not fit this film well at all in my opinion. It tried too hard to convey emotion on its own in a film that was already swirling with it and with long drawn out horns, and ominous tones it was more distracting, than it was adding to the overall package. Some people will really enjoy this one, some may not. Regardless Portman was excellent and made this movie all it could be.