Jackie  is the biopic tale of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (Natalie Portman) in the aftermath of the assassination of John F Kennedy and her struggle to deal with the trauma of seeing her husband killed before her eyes. The First Lady is determined to ensure that the nation remembers the 35th President of the United States and that his legacy lives on. Peter Sarsgaard is excellent as Bobby Kennedy and John Hurt and Richard E. Grant join the ensemble in supporting roles.
Natalie Portman’s talent is crushed by this film; the screenplay drags and flits sporadically from scene to scene and at one point I even looked at my watch in exasperation wondering how much longer they could possibly drag it out. Portman portrays the suffering and psychologically damaged first lady excellently and mimics her mannerisms and drawling voice masterfully, but even an actress of her skill can’t save this sinking ship. While I’m sympathetic towards the trauma Jackie experienced and the horrific nature of JFK’s death, there’s no getting around it - this film is boring.
The score is painful; Mica Levi is known for her work in Under the Skin (2013), which ironically, is exactly what this soundtrack does. It gets under your skin. It is jarring, annoying, overdramatic and mismatched with the cinematography. You’re not quite sure how to react to the scenes played out in front of you. Should I be sad, concerned, or sympathetic? Is Jackie’s poised and dignified demeanor all a show for the American People? The soundtrack definitely did not add to the film and was grating on the senses at times when the scenes could have been poignant and important to the story.
The director Pablo Larrain has a thing for presidents; with his repertoire including Post Mortem (2010) about the last days of Salvador Allende’s presidency, and Tony Manero (2008) about the height of General Pinochet’s reign of terror, he often focuses on bizarre and unusual elements to tell a story. It really doesn’t work here and I think a film about JFK’s achievements would have been more engaging. After all he was a visionary who initiated the space program, which eventually won the space race and landed a man on the moon. He was also the president during the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the threat of the cold war and the Cuban missile crises. Now that would have been an interesting film about legacy.