JACKIE from Chilean Director Pablo Larraín takes the viewer on a journey through one of the most important moments in American History – the assassination of John F. Kennedy. This movie allows the viewers an intimate portrait seen through the eyes of then First Lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. The weaving between Jackie’s interview with a reporter a week after the assassination and the harrowing recap of the tragic events is absolute perfection.

Natalie Portman who plays Jackie, a figure known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, is unbelievable in both her facial expressions and breathy voice, essentially becoming the First Lady. Stand out scenes were in front of the mirror frantically yet unsuccessfully wiping the dead presidents blood off her face, while showing emotion so raw and deep it made you feel as if there firsthand. And the scene holding her husbands brain parts and trying to hold them together is strikingly powerful. She will almost certainly be nominated for a host of awards if not sweep the entirety of them.

Between her discord with and resentment of the interviewer (played by Billy Crudup) and the private moments with her Priest (played by John Hurt), the character is so deeply exposed we can’t help but take the roller coaster ride of emotions with her.

Not just about Portman’s performance, other elements make this a contender for Best Picture, if not in stand-alone categories such as Set Design, Script and Musical Score.

The script is brilliant in so many ways; but standouts were the priests comments about why not to commit suicide, Jackie’s many inferences to the interviewer that he is not allowed to print what she said and the many times she changes her mind on the funeral’s setup. She is a control freak after all.

The authentic sets in Dallas, Air Force One, the White House and Funeral processions down from White House to Capitol were laid out with absolute precision. The black and white flashbacks to Jackie’s live television performance showing how she updated and renovated the White House were spot on (I say this having watched the original.)

The movie begins with a very harsh clang of music from Mica Levi’s powerful music score, and continues to almost haunt the movie with his harrowing transitions. It is sometimes harsh but a perfect backdrop to the movie.  Never having heard anything like this, there were times when I was taken aback by the hard clangs and overtures but overall thought that Levi did a fantastic job making sure this fit the movie.

My only complaint with this movie is that the re-enactments did not show when Jackie instructed John John to salute the casket of his father.  I thought that was a serious omission and kept waiting for that flashback to be shown.  But it can and I guess has to be overlooked.

This movie premiered in Houston at the Museum of Fine Arts as part of the Houston Cinema Arts Festival – a seven-day event. Movies continue to be shown in venues around the city until November 17th. Click here for more information about Houston Cinema Arts Festival.

 

Deborah Elias

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