Directed by Pablo Larrain
Written by Noah Oppenheim
Produced by Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin, Ari Handel & Juan de Dios Larrain
Music by Mica Levi
Cinematography by Stephane Fontaine
Starring Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, John Hurt & Richard E. Grant
UK release date: 20th January 2017
Feature running time: 100 minutes
Jackie is a portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady, then Jacqueline Kennedy. Jackie places us in her world during the days immediately following her husband’s assassination. (Source: FOX SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES via IMDB)
The JFK assassination has always been one such major event/conspiracy to have made its mark on human history, that’s always fascinated and intrigued me the most. Whether President Kennedy was really assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald or not, I like how we’ve already been made witness to such a pivotal moment in time from different angles. In Oliver Stone’s movie in 1991, we see district attorney Jim Garrison played by Kevin Costner digging deeper into the assassination, realising there’s a lot more under the surface than what was officially confirmed in the media. In 2016, JJ Abrams bought to the small screen an adaption of Stephen King’s bestseller, 11.22.63, the story of a high school English teacher who travels back in time to prevent John F. Kennedy’s assassination from ever happening. Both of these may have been told by different viewpoints but they have also taken place quite some time before and after the shocking kill via two male perspectives. That’s the crucial difference with Jackie. We get a whole new spin on things altogether when director Pablo Larrain makes the bold move to reveal the events unfolding immediately seconds after the tragedy, this time told through a female point of view of Lady Kennedy herself.
There’s been quite the buzz surrounding Portman’s performance, perhaps enough to earn her a nomination in the running for best leading actress at this year’s oscars. Personally, I thought she was good but not outstanding enough to get the attention she’s been currently receiving. Still, she’s supported by a pretty great cast that includes the likes of such experienced thespians such as Richard E. Grant and John Hurt. With a brilliant score that is both incredibly haunting and melancholic, this film has some of the greatest lingering shots of scenery and colour I have laid my eyes on recently. More specifically its the colour red that stands out as the most prominent and important element, acting as a recurring theme that runs throughout the whole movie; appearing in practically every scene as an act of symbolism in reference to the amount of blood that was spilt the moment Kennedy had his brains blown out after three gunshots allegedly fired.
The structural storytelling didn’t really work for me as it didn’t offer anything new and it decided to seemingly play it safe by letting all the most important narrative events play out and unfold against such a tried and tested formula, if that makes sense. There also wasn’t a lot there to keep me fully engaged and unable to hold my complete attention.
For a running time of just 100 minutes, my patience was a little bit tested when it came to the actual pacing. There were a few times where I couldn’t wait for it to all be over, so if instead it happened to be stretching to two hours or more, I would have felt inclined maybe to get up and walk out of the cinema. This is something I rarely ever do! Like, ever.
Lastly, I felt little to no emotional attachment to any of the characters themselves, and yes, this includes the titular character of Jackie herself. The whole aftermath of what follows on from the assassination was frankly all in all a bit dull, slow and agonisingly boring.
As far as biopics go, its not a bad one in all fairness, held together by a fairly good performance by Portman. Its just a shame there isn’t enough melodrama and emotional turmoil to do this story half the justice it deserved though.
All in all this was a fresh angle to take when returning back to one of the most talked about tragedies in U.S history, however I couldn’t help but think it could have been executed a lot better effectively.