It is not often that you get to see a behind-the-scenes look at politic figures, especially that of a presidential family. But one of this year's Oscar nominations allows just that.
The film is director Pablo Larraín's first English-speaking feature, though it is not the first to have a political tinge. With previous films like NO, and the more recent NERUDA, JACKIE nestles nicely into an array of films that take a closer look at the people involved in political affairs. Taking place one week after the assasination of John F. Kennedy in 1963, previous First Lady, the film follows Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) as she gives an interview (conducted by Billy Crudup as the unnamed Journalist) in her home on Cape Cod.
Through flashbacks, we see Jackie's interactions with all of her close acquaintances - her body guard; Nancy Tuckerman, Jackie's personally chosen Social Secretary (Greta Gerwig); her brother-in-law, Bobby Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard); Lyndon B. Johnson (John Carroll Lynch); and her children, Caroline and John, Jr. (Sunnie Pelant, Aiden/Brody Weinburg). Each interaction is full of emotion, and each interaction shows the various shades of Jackie Kennedy and her grief.
There are two threads that run through the film: one is the comparison that Jackie makes at great length of Abraham Lincoln -- of his status and memory, as well as the circumstances of his wife after his assassination -- to her husband and her.
The next thread ties in with the first, and that is the impact that the Kennedys had on the United States. Reflecting on a term cut short, Jackie and Bobby discuss: "What did we accomplish?" Bobby asks, "We're just the beautiful people." This worry of making an impact makes sense when paired with the focus on Lincoln. What Jackie seems to want most in this interview is to preserve her husband's reputation.
Portman's performance is a rich amalgamate of stern adamancy, uncertainty, and the contrast between unfettered and composed grief. JACKIE really allows you to tap into these characters' lives and see behind the curtain of politics. Sarsgaard's speech toward the end of the film fills out the family's ordeal. JACKIE is now playing at Midtown Cinema - don't miss this one!