The world knows Jackie Kennedy — the elegant, poised and dignified former First Lady of the United States. However after seeing Jackie, Pablo Larraín’s latest film, it feels as though the words often used to describe her fall decidedly short. They recall a historical figure, a legend, when the real and raw human behind the famous Chanel ensemble was far more interesting.
It’s this person that’s captured in Jackie, which has fast tracked its way to the top of my best of 2016 list.
I can’t wait a minute more to describe how touching and triumphant Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Jackie is. If you thought that Black Swan was her career high then you’re terribly mistaken.
Jackie is an emotionally charged watch, and Portman does everything in her power to create a bond with the audience, disappearing into the role so convincingly. At times it feels as though you’re not watching the famous figure at all, but rather happily trapped in a one on one and incredibly intimate dialogue with a woman in grief, trying to hold her world together in the midst of immense public and private pressure. Portman’s work goes beyond portrayal here: she is simply Jackie.
Just as much can be said for Peter Sarsgaard, who portrays Robert F. Kennedy. He’s certainly the strongest supporting player, and a beautiful complement to Portman’s performance. It’s hard not to like Sarsgaard as Robert, who becomes Jackie’s biggest support system and cheerleader in the aftermath.
Pablo Larraín has created a truly moving spectacle with Jackie, taking us through intense, private moments to brief but powerful scenes involving John F. Kennedy’s assassination. I can’t recall another drama this year that had even a speckle of the impact Jackie had on me, and judging by the teary eyes around me in the theatre, it’s a safe bet that many others will feel the same.
Image: EOne Films