Rated R, 100 minutes
The alluring, superbly-acted biopic "Jackie" starring Oscar-winner Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy, sheds some light on the former First Lady immediately following her husband John Kennedy's assassination in November, 1963 and how she would shape her and her husband's legacy. Sublimely staged and remarkably restrained, "Jackie" is an elegant, insightful tribute to a very private public figure.
The film follows Jackie Kennedy (Portman) in the days when she was First Lady in the White House and her life following the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy, in 1963. It focuses on Theodore H. White's (Billy Crudup) Life magazine interview with the widow at Hyannis Port, Massachusetts shortly after the death of her husband.
Directed by Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain ("No" and the upcoming "Neruda") with a script by Noah Oppenheim ("The Maze Runner"), "Jackie" is a fascinating, often captivating look at Jackie Kennedy following the death of John Kennedy, grounded by an enchanting, award-worthy turn from Portman as Jackie, and she casts a luminous glow as the former first lady. With Jackie's signature coif and her breathy, New England accent, she perfectly embodies her pensive, quiet elegance, but also her vulnerabilities as she relives John's bloody death in her arms.
Director Larrain is an unusual choice for the material, but he puts together the elements to make "Jackie" an effective portrait. The bright cinematography from "A Prophet's" Stephane Fontaine and the haunting music from English musician Mica Levi (also known as Micachu) draw you in early on and add to the detailed recreations of the White House, Jackie's wardrobe and the Kennedy Assassination.
Portman is well-supported with solid turns from Crudup as Life reporter White, Greta Gerwig as Jackie's trusted assistant Nancy Tuckerman, Peter Sarsgaard as Robert Kennedy and in a brief but memorable role, John Hurt as a priest who counsels Jackie during her time of grief, when he learns she longed for a public death, just to be with her late husband.
The White House and assassination recreations highlight "Jackie," while the Portman-Crudup interview scenes are slightly jarring, though it sheds some light on where the whole Kennedy Camelot myth came from, something created between Jackie and White and only perpetuated over the years.
Expect some awards love for "Jackie" and rightly so, it's one of the year's most memorably acted, fascinating films, and Portman's Jackie is one of the best portrayals of a First Lady who's had many, many portraits on film. Costumes, hair and make-up, to Portman's luminous portrayal as well as Larrain's skilled direction, this one is a must-see.