Rating: 3 / 5
How you react to Natalie Portman’s latest blockbuster Jackie will depend on your patience as a filmgoer and your interest in the period immediately following the assassination of JFK. Yet there’s no doubt that Portman gives a towering performance as the widow in the weeks following her husband’s death.
The film cleverly mixes historic black-and-white footage from the 1962 television documentary A Tour of the White House with Mrs John F. Kennedy with Portman as Jackie. Portman’s rendition is so good that I couldn’t tell the difference between the real First Lady and Portman’s characterisation.
Dealing with the assassination and the first weeks after JFK’s death, Portman embodies the bereaved widow who also has the weight of the country’s grief upon her shoulders. She will do everything she can to protect her children and enshrine the JFK legacy, which we see through a series of interviews with ‘The Journalist’ (Billy Crudup).
A fervent Catholic, Jackie questions why God could allow this to happen. As her priest (John Hurt) pessimistically tells her, ‘There comes a time in man’s search for meaning when one realises that there are no answers.’
There are fine performances from Peter Saarsgard (as Bobby Kennedy) and Greta Gerwig (as Jackie’s close friend Nancy Tuckerman), Hurt and Crudup. But director Pablo Larrain is so smitten by his vision that he treats it too lovingly, rendering it all a tediously slow biopic.
Red flag: JFK’s assassination is quite graphic