Film biographies are like a form of cinematic karaoke. You watch an actor impersonate someone’s rhythm with moves and style matched. Although we know it isn’t the real thing, a close facsimile is usually enjoyable if the story or melody is strong. ‘Jackie’ carries its silver screen tune with ease. As with any in the genre, what is seen should be taken with a grain of salt. No one can truly know how a subject felt or did at any given time but ‘Jackie’ captures the essence of its subject with the style for which she was renowned.
After the assassination of American President John F Kennedy, his wife, First Lady Jackie (Natalie Portman), retreats to seclusion. Trying to cope with the aftermath of the terrible event, she resolves to maintain his legacy. Helped by his brother Bobby (Peter Sarsgaard), Jackie charts a course for a new future. With the constant glare of the media around, her actions are closely examined. Preserving the Kennedy name is one Jackie strives to do in spite of the naysayers determined to destroy all she and her husband built.
‘Jackie’ very much rests on Portman’s shoulders. Tasked with conveying the graceful determination of the subject, she equips herself admirably. You feel the genuine despair and strength driving her in the immediate storm of her husband’s death. In some ways she was an early media manipulator in her ability knowing what headlines were needed. That wasn’t a bad thing as she had to control the flow of information that could easily have been skewed. Her poise when dealing with what lay ahead after the assassination is expressed admirably in Portman’s hands.
The rest of ‘Jackie’ is hit and miss. Whilst the locations and integration of old and new footage are excellent, the story needs work. There are many repetitive scenes covering the same ground which only appear to exist to extend the run-time. The musical score is another issue. Although incredibly grand and unique to listen to, it often distracts from the screenplay’s points. Silence is often more golden than booming noise where viewers should feel the emotions than have them musically spoon-fed.
Despite aspects not matching the high quality performances, ‘Jackie’ nonetheless presents an interesting historical snap-shot. Elegant and generally engaging it doesn’t foul the next of movie biographies with a woman’s strength in a time of crisis laid bare in remarkable fashion.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 6
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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