Jackie (2016)


Pablo Larraín’s latest film, a biopic about Jacqueline Kennedy (Natalie Portman) from the days after JFK’s death, is one of the year’s most frustrating films, one in the sense that it feels far too much like an obscured portrait of its own subject. On one hand, it’s technical marvels cannot be denied and it’s directed in a really unique way that’s quite immersive, up to a point that it feels almost like a psychodrama at times. But at other times, the film just feels empty, reaching for an emotional hook that simply isn’t there.

I think it needs to be pointed out that Jackie focuses on a concentrated time frame, unlike most biopics, though I’m not sure if that decision completely helps the film because Noah Oppenheim’s screenplay doesn’t exactly have a lot of substance to begin with. It seems to be a study of grief but doesn’t exactly crack the surface when it comes to the exploration of grief. And when the film isn’t focusing on Portman performance, it’s just stalking her as she moves aimlessly through the White House which tends to make the film quite boring.


But if there’s two things about Jackie that do work very well; it’s Natalie Portman’s cracking glass performance as Jackie Kennedy and Mica Levi’s incredible, off-kilter score. Portman does a great job of embodying the character of Jackie, especially when it comes to conveying emotions. Yes, her accent feels a little distracting at times, but that’s a minor quibble. And as for Mica Levi’s score, it’s almost too good for this movie. Like, this movie doesn’t deserve a score this great. It’s haunting, in every sense of the word and listening to it sent goosebumps down my spine.

Jackie is a beautifully made film. It’s a beautifully acted film. But at the same time it’s one that feels far too afraid of itself to dig deeper and the vapid lifelessness of it all makes it tough to like. It’s definitely worth noting for fleeting moments of brilliance, but after those rather short periods I only found myself bored.




17 responses to “Jackie (2016)

  1. I too really enjoyed Portman’s performance and Lica’s score. You say there is no reflection of Portman’s character when she is crying at multiple times. Well she did she her husband killed in front of her. I think that is reason enough to cry for no reason. There are times when it is a bit slow, but it stil was one of my favorite movies of 2016


    • I guess what I meant to say was that it didn’t explore grief as well as I hoped it would. And I always felt the film didn’t have substance to much to work with either.


  2. Aw, I’m sorry you didn’t like it a bit more. I thought it worked very well. Her grief was extremely powerful to me on screen. Especially when she’s kind of zoned out, walking around trying on clothes drinking. That I thought was a very real thing that would happen.


    • I just felt the film tried to capture far too much with far too little. I guess her portrayal of grief wasn’t that much of a problem for me, but the lack of substance in the script definitely was.


  3. This is one of those films where I fear I won’t be able to ignore the performer in the character. Natalie Portman sounds like she really delivers though so I’ll have to give this a go. A shame it didn’t work so well for you, but it doesn’t look like you are alone!


    • Yeah, I think Portman is definitely the highlight, as well made as the film is. In retrospect, the biggest problem for me though was probably that it tried to capture far too much with far too little.


  4. Hi Khalid, how are you buddy? I desperately want to see this, mainly for Portman. Wonderfully written review man, sorry I haven’t been on your blog a lot.


  5. I agree, Portman is the star and a bit of a surprise for me. I’ve never been completely sold on her as an actress. She seems a bit all over the place. But she falls right into this quirky interpretation of Jackie Kennedy.


    • I feel the same way about her. Garden State and Closer would have to be the only two other times that I’ve really liked her work but otherwise I find her to be a pretty okay actress. But here, she’s really in her element.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I totally agree with you on this one, although I think I may have enjoyed it more than you did. If you took Natalie Portman out of the movie, it just becomes a made for TV flick. She carried the film start to finish, but sadly I don’t think she’ll win the Oscar she deserves for this performance.


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