Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Jackie: Will Reawaken Many Memories

Movie Review: Jackie (2016)
Version: Library borrow

For anyone who was alive and sentient near the end of 1963, the film Jackie will reawaken many memories. If you're among the many who weren't around then, this movie will bring into focus for you a time of great grief for the American people and the unimaginable struggles for American First Lady Jackie Kennedy after the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Directed by Pablo Larrain, the film has sought historical accuracy, using film from the events surrounding the events the film depicts to choreograph scenes and create sets. It features Natalie Portman in the lead as Jackie Kennedy in a close but not perfect rendition of the First Lady. Caspar Phillipson is a dead ringer for President Kennedy. Most others of the cast are unrecognizable, although Beth Grant is very believable as Lady Bird Johnson, wife of Vice President and then newly sworn-in President Lyndon Baines Johnson. Billy Crudup plays "the journalist" who interviews Jackie in between clips -- real and refilmed -- of Jackie's tour of the White House for CBS-TV, the fateful presidential visit to Dallas, Texas, the controversies surrounding the planning of President Kennedy's funeral, and the president's funeral itself. The interview serves as a sounding board for Jackie's disillusions with family, friends, and protocol and the goals the president wanted to accomplish but was destined never to achieve.

While Portman did a fine job trying to "be" Jackie, she had a certain edge I never experienced watching the real Jackie when I was a teen growing up at the time of these events, nor during her later years afterwards. I don't doubt Jackie went through what was portrayed in the film, but she was far more refined and quiet than Portman was able to assume for the character. And Portman's voice work bothered me, which is always a danger for an actor trying to take on too close a semblance of the real person. I can't really fault Portman for it, but still, it bothered me. The other thing that bothered me was that other than Vice President and Lady Bird Johnson, I had no idea who the other characters were -- there was no attempt to get actors who looked like their real counterparts. The only reason I knew who was portraying Bobby Kennedy was because Jackie called him Bobby. The film needed some kind of identifier for these other characters.

All that said, this film well captured the times, the events, and the struggles of this story. It was an intimate look into Jackie's very personal struggles living a very public life and very public demise. I highly recommend Jackie for history buffs and Americans interested in the Kennedy era once known as Camelot.

No comments: