Set in the aftermath of President Kennedy’s assassination, this triple-Oscar nominee follows Jackie Kennedy, played by Natalie Portman – a less than enticing proposition for anyone who’s previously watched her play a dignitary in a certain prequel trilogy.
You were probably wondering, weren’t you, about how Jackie Kennedy felt in the wake of her husband’s murder. You probably thought she was upset and confused. Well, according to this movie, that was pretty much the case. But she was also bitter and sarcastic. I’m not well-informed enough to comment on historical accuracy, but the filmmakers appear to have some kind of grudge against her.
To her credit, Portman manages a great impersonation; unfortunately, it’s of Eric Cartman. Stick the phrase “you guys” on the end of any of her lines and you’ve got yourself a particularly bleak episode of South Park. And yet she’s guaranteed another Oscar, because her performance is so mannered and over the top, you guys.
There’s a lot of wasted talent on screen, including Richard E. Grant, John Hurt and Peter Sarsgaard; so strong in The Magnificent Seven remake, but totally miscast as Bobby Kennedy. They should’ve got someone to do a better Boston accent. Mayor Quimby perhaps.
A more egregious problem is that Noah Oppenheim’s monotonous screenplay, as Donald Trump might say, sucks bigly. The narrative is framed by a fabricated interview with Jackie Kennedy, which she redacts as she goes along, nonetheless letting us in on all the gory details. Isn’t it bad enough that we live in an age of vulture-like media intrusion without having to retroactively graft it onto the past?
Jackie is essentially ‘grief porn’ masquerading as an artsy biopic. The production values are impressive and Mica Levi’s Oscarnated music does all the hard work (and it is hard work), with a similarly appropriate car crash-esque score to her work on Under the Skin.
But even as a piece of voyeurism it fails to deliver. Bereft of emotion, humanity and (most crucially) drama, Jackie is as shallow as it is mean. I’m Still Here is a better film about fame; Garfield a better film about an assassinated president.