“My husband was a great man”.
Was it all that Jackie had to express? Or was there more? Pablo Larrain’s captivating biopic follows Jackie being interviewed days after her husband’s assassination, as she tries to secure his legacy.
Jackie is brutally powerful. Bloody clothes stained with the remains of her husband’s brain. She removes it from her face before being violently subjected to the swearing-in of Lindon B. Johnson. And in an instant she is no longer first lady, no longer Mrs John F Kennedy and yet still covered with blood.
“I lost track somewhere, what was real, what was performance”.
Jackie is fictionally honest. Larrain inserts real footage from 1960s and interposes them with factual reconstitutions and fictional scenes. Larrain is a director who enjoys playing with facts and fiction. In Neruda, Larrain follows the persecuted communist poet, Pablo Neruda, from Chile using historical facts, fictional characters and beautiful scenery, giving the biopic, an almost poetic sensation.
In Jackie, Larrain restages the 1962 TV documentary, A Tour of the White House With Mrs John F Kennedy. We see Jackie brilliantly portrayed by Nathalie Portman but it is Jackie’s very own voice that we hear. Performance entered Jackie’s life and simply took over.
Jackie is utterly intimate. Numerous wordless and lonely scenes and looming close-ups. Jackie sleeps alone, Jackie drinks alone, Jackie with her children, Jackie wanders the White House, always alone.. Perhaps unlikely, these scenes open us to a much deeper and intimate look at the grieving mother.
“There should be more horses, more soldiers… There’s more crying, more cameras… I will march with Jack, alone if necessary”.
If it was her husband’s legacy that Jackie was desperately trying to save, it is with hers that we end up.
The Kennedy’s are still the most famous presidential couple in American history. We remember the surprising victory, the handsome president, the tragic ending and of course the beautiful Mrs. Kennedy. But what Larrain delivers is a truly intimate portrait of what has perhaps not been said enough: her grief, her passion, her love and her courage. All together nurtured by the powerful, sometimes brutal but mostly enthralling score by Mica Levi.
“People will remember your dignity, Mrs. Kennedy”.
Jackie, directed by Pablo Larrain and starring Nathalie Portman, Peter Sarsgarrd and Greta Gerwig, was released in the UK on Friday (January 20).