‘Jackie’ is a completely riveting biopic, unlike any other. Director Pablo Larraín brings not only aesthetic flair to the tragic tale, but a remarkable amount of emotion, one only furthered by a bravura performance from Natalie Portman. Anyone seeking a straightforward narrative will be disappointed, as Jackie will appeal more to the arthouse crowd than the average viewer.
Rather than aim for the standard biopic “tell-it-how-it-happened” approach, Larraín shoots his subject with such reserved nuance and empathy that feels significantly more genuine than your usual “Oscar-bait”. Nearly every shot in the film is up-close and personal, focusing on the First Lady’s personal endeavor to maintain integrity during a dire situation. Natalie Portman’s stellar performance sends the audience into a hypnotic trance, expressing an incredible amount of vulnerability and bravery missing from your standard Biopic. Portman allows herself to go places most actresses won’t, or can’t reach.
The film follows Jackie Kennedy from seconds after the Assassination to Life Magazine’s interview with the widow in Massachusetts, with each moment clearly taking a toll on her as she masks the sadness. Thankfully, rather than stay unbearably bleak throughout the 99-minute runtime, screenwriter Noah Oppenheim finds a glimmer of hope in the situation, penning a mature and affecting script that dips it’s toes into humanistic and existential territory. While the tonal-shifts and themes may not swirl together in a completely fluid manner, I’ll trade an uninteresting biopic for the thought-provoking and experimental any day. From the opening scene of the picture, Mica Levi’s somber score takes us further into the mind of Jackie Kennedy, crafting a beautiful and borderline-maddening score that appears sparingly and cleverly. It might be too experimental for the Academy to appreciate (aside from Portman, whose powerful performance makes her a shoe-in for Best Actress), but Jackie is a film that should not be missed, with a truly impactful message that is as relevant now as it was during those dark times.