Friday, December 9, 2016
Jackie is unconventional, uncompromising, and one of the best films of the year.
Review by Matt CummingsJackie is a masterful film. Starkly raw in its depiction of perhaps the worst single event since WWII, it's a remarkably poignant biopic that is largely non-traditional in its format or how it treats its subjects. Powered by an incredible performance from its lead, it vaults to the top of our Oscar choices behind expert camerawork and a sense that our current political machine is headed in the same terrible direction. Still reeling over the loss of her husband John F. Kennedy (Caspar Phillipson), Jaqueline (Natalie Portman) has disappeared to the family's Hyannis Port home, ready to tell her side of the story to an unknown journalist (Billy Crudrup). Told from four different time periods, Jackie relates the horrific moments of the assassination, but orders The Journalist to carefully dictate her words so as assuage the concerns of Americans that she is no longer the regal First Lady. We see how the events affect brother Bobby Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard), as he struggles to organize the funeral around security concerns that Jackie couldn't care less about. Filled with rage and determined to show Americans the horror behind her husband's murder, Jackie defiantly ignores warnings against her life to march down Pennsylvania Avenue in the biggest funeral procession since Abraham Lincoln. The decision will elevate Jackie's reputation and prove to be one of the most iconic moments in 20th Century history. The brilliance behind Jackie lies in both its director and its lead. This is the first time many of us will hear of Director Pablo Larrain, as Jackie represents his first English-language film. At first, we're unsure where Larrain is going, presenting four separate storylines that take until the second act to coalesce. But when it locks in, Jackie is almost uncontrollably emotional for the audience, as we watch the First Lady clean her husband's blood from her face (missing an entire section in the midst of her grief), before watching Johnson take the oath on Air Force One. It's a truly powerful moment that Larrain uses in different ways throughout the film to depict the power of loss. We grieve with Jackie, in a way that perhaps we did when the assassination first happened. But we also see the careful political machine in play when she's interviewed for CBS News in 1962 for the restoration of The White House. Larrain masterfully splices real footage with Portman standing in looking (and sounding) very Jackie. Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.