Natalie Portman’s last award-winning appearance in a film was for her performance in Black Swan seven years ago. It seems she’s due for another Oscar nod, judging from the snippets of her moving portrayal of former FLOTUS Jackie Kennedy Onassis in the film Jackie.
The film follows a string of movies and television series about the lives of political figures, such as Netflix’s upcoming Barry, on the life of Barack Obama, and The Crown, which tells the story of Queen Elizabeth II. Unlike those works, Jackie tells a chilling tale of loss and how it was masked and presented—neatly, theatrically—to the world. The movie revolves around the interview the former First Lady gave to an unnamed reporter shortly after her husband’s assassination.
It is more about substance than style.
While Jackie Kennedy is remembered as a fashion icon and one of America’s more popular First Ladies, the movie is more of a biopic than a fashion film. Through it, we get a glimpse of how the character struggled with her husband’s death. The performance is riveting. The script is a thorough representation of grief, and the nearly manic packaging of that grief is what will captivate audiences. It rewrites a page from a history book into a spellbinding human tragedy.
In terms of costumes, audiences can revel in the impeccable recreations of Jackie’s iconic pink Chanel suit and the statement waist-length veil she wore over a black Givenchy suit during JFK’s funeral. One of the stills from the film shows Jackie processing her grief by trying on gown after gown.
The film focuses on the days that followed JFK’s death and how the First Family composed themselves in front of the world.
Dealing with a death of a loved one is difficult as it is. You can imagine how much worse it was for Jackie Kennedy, who had to pick up the pieces after the publicly staged murder of her husband, a political figure, the President of the United States.
The shock of having just witnessed her husband’s shooting and having to cradle his shattered skull before he is rushed to the hospital is mindblowing. The First Lady had to immediately face the press in her blood-stained suit just minutes after then-vice president Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in aboard Air Force One. The act of composing herself, while comforting two young children and having to delay her family’s removal from the White House is a poignant feat that Jackie managed to pull off with great difficulty. This is exactly what the film intends to portray.
Many of the events from the script were interpolated by the screenwriter.
But don’t worry, first-time screenwriter Noah Oppenheim is brilliant. His script nabbed best screenplay at last year’s Venice International Film Festival. The First Lady did her best to protect her family’s privacy, so very little is known about the details after the assassination, but Oppenheim, who is transfixed with that time in American history, tried his best to fill in the blanks. He tells Variety in an interview, “When you’re trying to imagine what might have existed in the gaps, my goal was always to try to ground that imagination in some reality of who she was.”
Jackie explores darker psychological themes.
At one point in the trailer, Portman as Jackie says, “All the demands I made to honor him... It wasn’t for Jack, it was for me.”
Jackie’s hypnotic performance during this tragic ordeal alternates between her two characters: a robotic and stoic pillar of strength and a delicate creature obsessed with preserving her husband’s legacy to the point of lunacy. She was also fixated on trying to recreate President Lincoln's processional and in her last viewing of the corpse, she snipped a lock of hair from her deceased husband.
Watch the trailer of Jackie below: