Anchored by Natalie Portman’s achy-eyed performance, Jackie is, despite a few wrinkles at the end, about the best version of this story you can get.
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Extraordinary in its piercing intimacy and lacerating in its sorrow, Jackie is a remarkably raw portrait of an iconic American first lady, reeling in the wake of tragedy while at the same time summoning the defiant fortitude needed to make her husband's death meaningful, and to ensure her own survival as something more than a fashionably dressed footnote.
Instead of observing its historical subject from behind a glass case, Jackie offers a piercing portrait of a woman’s psychological and emotional journey.
Eschewing standard biopic form at every turn, this brilliantly constructed, diamond-hard character study observes the exhausted, conflicted Jackie as she attempts to disentangle her own perspective, her own legacy, and, perhaps hardest of all, her own grief from a tragedy shared by millions.
Jackie is what happens when two distinct sensibilities — the Goliath of the Hollywood prestige pic and the David of Pablo Larraín’s playful, idiosyncratic intelligence — throw down.
Larraín is as good at navigating the treacherous waters of internal White House politics as he is capturing the moments of intense, if numbed, private suffering.
Larraín’s highly varied visual invention and command of complex structure serve as a reminder of how vitally an imaginative director can skew what otherwise might have emerged in more mainstream colours.
Jackie pummels you with grandeur, with its epic visions of the funeral and that terrible moment in the convertible (all of it rendered in pitch-perfect detail and a subtle 16-millimeter shudder). Yet the film's lasting impact is dazzlingly intellectual: Just as JFK himself turned politics into image-making, his wife continued his work when no one else could.
It’s a singular vision from an uncompromising director that happens to be about one of the most famous women in American history. Jackie is not Oscar bait – it’s great cinema.
This is remarkable stuff from a director on the cusp of the mainstream. You sense an American filmmaker might not have managed it.