Coinciding with the inauguration of the latest President of the United States, Pablo Larraín’s latest film takes a look at one of the most famous First Ladies in American history; Jackie Kennedy. Just released, ‘Jackie’ focuses it’s attention on the woman who stands beside the President and in Mrs Kennedy’s case the aftermath of the tragic assassination of her husband & 35th President of the USA, John F. Kennedy.
One of the most, if not the most, important elements to a biopic is how much likeness there is to the real life figure being portrayed by the lead star. Natalie Portman is the star in question here taking on no doubt a very challenging role. However her performance is nothing short of astounding and the authenticity that she brings to this role is quite something. I knew nothing of Jackie Kennedy before this film, I wasn’t aware of how she spoke, the way she carried herself or her mannerisms but with some quick research online it’s clear to see that Portman has got her portrayal of the First Lady spot on. The lead performance is crucial for the success of the film and often takes complete responsibility for keeping audiences engaged. It wasn’t just this performance that had an air of authenticity about it though, the film really looks the part. Thanks to the settings, the costume design and even the way the movie is filmed you really feel like you are in the era that this film is set in.
The film has quite a brief timeline, it mainly follows the days after President Kennedy’s assassination but there are some scenes set before and some after this short period too. It has to be said though the narrative is quite sparse. What we have here is a detailed look at one woman’s mourning, but mourning that had to be carried out with the whole world watching. As you can expect there are quite a few emotional scenes in the film, it was in these moments that I was most engaged with the film but in the absence of these I didn’t find the film that interesting. Of course there were times that I was able to get lost in Portman’s performance but I did find myself drifting off at times. Now I wouldn’t really expect anything else from this film, the story it chooses to tell isn’t a very eventful one, it just leaves me with the question of was a film about this really necessary? It has spawned a wonderful performance so I don’t think it should never have been made, I simply conclude that it’s not a film for me. Accompanying the narrative was an at times surprisingly aggressive score, as the film opens you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a horror film. Although when you think about the gravity of the situation this is more appropriate than first imagined. There are softer moments throughout the score that repeat and I enjoyed their inclusion alongside the drama as well.
For me, Natalie Portman’s performance in ‘Jackie’ is better than the film itself. I had suspected that this would be the case and audiences should be mature enough to know if this is the type of film that they will enjoy. Certain aspects of the narrative are engaging and enjoyable to watch and there is no doubt that this is a very authentic film. It just lacked a certain level of entertainment for me, but it will be more than enough for many.
Rating – 7/10
Question: What is your favourite Natalie Portman performance?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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