Jackie is a film about a story which we all think we already know: raised on the tales of the Kennedys as if they were the same as Camelot. The film at its heart is that of a wife losing her husband and her subsequent attempts to piece their life together. However, in this case her husband was the President of the United States, and that which she was trying to piece back together was a legacy. This unfamiliar portrait of Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman), is both alarming in its honesty whilst also beautifully revealing the dimensions behind the icon; painting Jackie in a whole new light, as an incredibly intelligent and aware actor in the creation of the almost mythical narrative of the Kennedy Presidency.
The film uses a 1963 LIFE Magazine interview as a means of showing how Jackie orchestrated the memory of her husband as being beyond that of himself into the realm of fables and fairy-tales. Curating a shining, Camelot-esque mythos around her husband, almost as a way of finding a sort of purpose or meaning from the horrific tragedy. It is an intense visual experience, bringing an unnerving closeness to the horrifically gritty and chaotic nature of the infamous event.
That which perhaps gives the film its incredible intensity is Mica Levi’s orchestral score, which makes the scenes not only harrowing but also hauntingly beautiful. It echoes throughout, playing almost a conscious role in the narrative; a key companion to the breathtakingly stunning cinematography which composes a level of empathetic intimacy. What director Pablo Larrain excels at is making the audience revaluate their own opinion and relationship with the Kennedy’s cult-like influence, which shines out as almost an untouchable royalty amongst political figures.
A true triumph of the film is perhaps its frame to frame recreation of the much beloved 1961 White House Tour television programme which Jackie presented, as a means of sparking the great American spirit through its history. It is a truly beautiful film, which eloquently reveals the flawed and messy reality of this character from our collective history.
Image: McNamara Family Private Collection