Review: Jackie – a textured portrait

Review: Jackie – a textured portrait

Jackie is no ordinary biopic. It shares very little with stories like The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, or Lincoln. This film achieves what many of those do not; it paints a textured portrait of a real life character without constantly slipping into caricature. The filmmaker’s next film, Naruda, is also a biopic and once more it looks daring, inventive, and unique.

Jackie follows the story of Jacqueline Kennedy in the days after her husband’s death – how she copes with his death, how she seeks to honour him, how she comes out of her shell, and the performance she’d learnt to adopt as the first lady.

‘This film achieves what many of those do not; it paints a textured portrait of a real life character without constantly slipping into caricature’

The film is very well directed; it looks like it was shot on the same degraded 35mm stock as the very fine Carol. However it’s actually shot in 1.66:1; like putting a needle drop sound effect on a CD, it creates a vintage feel. It also means that the spliced in old footage, with Natalie Portman digitally inserted, looks really organic.

Although the supporting performances from John Hurt and Peter Sarsgaard are fine – maybe the best being from Billy Crudup – they are only supporting performances. This is really the Natalie Portman show and she carries off the character of Jackie Kennedy with some gusto. She has that imposing quality of Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood but much more nuanced and sympathetic.

‘This is really the Natalie Portman show and she carries off the character of Jackie Kennedy with some gusto’

If I had one complaint, it would be that every now and then, due to the screenplay bouncing around time and space like Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse-Five, the film feels detached, and drags in places. However, this doesn’t stop Jackie being a touching, well made biopic and Portman’s best performance since Black Swan. If she doesn’t win the Oscar, I’ll be very surprised.

James Selway

(Image courtesy of Fox Searchlight)

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