January 15, 2017

Movie Review: Jackie

It drives me nuts that movies are nominated for awards (Golden Globes for instance) before they've been released.  Jackie was released January 12th and we were there.
The movie is told through flashbacks that are book-ended by Jackie being interviewed one week after the funeral for a magazine.  While she's trying to find life anew she's determined to control the vision the world will have of her and the lost president.  At times she'll  allow the reporter a glimpse into the struggles she's facing then quickly reminds him "I never said any of that".
Maybe because we know so much about those horrible days in 1963 regardless of whether you can "Remember where you were when Kennedy was shot" or not, we feel we know this story.  However I don't believe this story has never been told from Jackie's perspective, which let's face it should have been done a long time ago.  I think the one thing this film shines a light on is her almost immediate isolation. When someone has a loss our usual reaction is to surround them with support, that's not what's being portrayed.  We see her stranded among a sea of people getting on with their jobs, for me these were the most powerful scenes.  Early on we see her sitting in front of a mirror wiping her husband's blood off her face, though not even fully cleaned she's called upon to witness Johnson's swearing in as President.  It's that moment you see her recognize that she is truly alone and it is up to her to direct the way her husband is to be memorialized.  That scene keeps replaying in my head.   She's determined to have her husband honored as Lincoln was, often searching for parallels.  While they're both grieving this loss Robert Kennedy is overwhelmed with what could have been while Jackie focuses on what they did; side by side neither is able to comfort the other.  Jackie at night alone in the White House, comforting their children, talking with secret service men, fighting for the funeral she wants, these are all solitary moments for her.  The White House around her continues yet she's on her own and now has to find her new role. 
Natalie Portman truly carries this movie beautifully, as evidenced by her many nominations and wins.  The cast around her is just as strong.  I was surprised to learn that this is the director's first English film as it felt truly "American".  But again maybe that new perspective is another reason for this movie's success. 
Recently many of the big theater offerings have been "Based on a True Story".  I believe that if I leave a theater wanting to know more about what the character or events I just saw then that movie was a success.  What is the point of telling a historical story if not to invite interest, spark debate?   Three movies of 2016 instantly leap to mind, Free State of Jones, Hacksaw Ridge and Florence Foster Jenkins. The next few days if not that night had me researching on the events, wanting to learn more. Quick FYI: I purposely do not research anything before the movie as I know there's creative license and I want to enjoy what I'm seeing before learning the exaggerations.  
While I am curious to know what Jackie is based on I'm not going to be researching much more.  But again , like I said earlier, maybe it is because this is a story we know so well and this movie just added more details to the picture.  The one thing I did research is the plaque we see added that Jackie had installed regarding the Kennedy's short period in the White House.  I'll let you read what I found out about it here in this Washington Post article from 2010.
4.5/5 Crowns 
20th Century Women (another nominated movie not yet released)
50 Shades Darker
United Kingdom

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