A film of mythic proportions, Jackie tackles the representation of icons, whilst being offset ingeniously by Mica Levi’s epic score.
The film opens on a black screen and two heart wrenching notes. From the beginning, the hair on your neck stands to attention and you know that this is no ordinary biopic. Director Pablo Larraín does a marvellous job of transforming a tragic story of unparalleled fame in the US and beyond.
Natalie Portman as Jackie Bouvier Kennedy compels the viewer. In the moments that you wish to flinch away from the horror and the intimacy of Jackie’s grief following John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s assassination, you dare not.
Jackie Kennedy tasks herself with upholding the myth of Camelot, constructed by the Kennedys, to be a ‘mother’ to the American people. We see Kennedy dictate to a journalist her version of the story refusing any moments of weakness (her tears, her smoking) to appear in print.
This shrewd interview is caught between flashbacks of her arranging a grand Lincoln-esque funeral for her husband, dancing and concerts in the White House, a rolling stretch of road in downtown Dallas, gunshots, and blood-red clashing with Chanel-pink.
The viewer is mesmerised by Jackie’s determination. Portman is a sheer force of will carrying the burden of poise and dignity, of being a First Lady, across to her role as JFK’s widow. She makes the audience uncomfortable, as if suffocated by the heavy wool of that double-breasted Chanel suit.
Elegant and haunting mirror shots reflect the presumed vanity, the carefully constructed performativity of the First Family and the fame of being a Kennedy.
This biopic not only constructs the icon of Jackie and of the Chanel suit – it undresses her, and then makes her up again.
Katie Rose Smart
If you’re interested in reading about the relevance of Jackie in the post-truth political landscape of today, follow the link to access her opinion piece on the movie and its relationship with the modern world: http://forgetoday.com/press/screen-talks-jackie-a-film-for-a-post-truth-political-landscape/