Cinematic accompaniments for historical tragedies have been a modern trend that has led to some of the most emotionally driven and socially relevant pictures from the last 40 years. Pablo Larrain’s Jackie joins the best of these factual/dismal dramas. The events of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy are world known, but instead of formulating another piece driven by JFK, as Oliver Stone did in 1991, Larrain takes a different approach and examines the turmoil and grief that his betrothed, Jackie Kennedy, endured after his death.
The ultimate fundamental structure creates an opportunity for a consistent style of dynamic filmmaking. There was always a possibility for a standard uninventive melodrama, but Larrain takes the artistic route. An interesting visual style and fantastic musical score is linked with a narrative that flickers from the events of the assassination, shown in bloody and horrific detail, to the emotional damage afterwards. These events are all cleverly framed through the first journalistic interview that happens after her husband’s death.
Natalie Portman melds with Jackie, showing the lifelessness and grief of a recently widowed woman, which is emphasised through having to deal with funeral plans, her very young children and a moral, personal and political self-reflection. A stand-out scene that is divided up amongst the film is a meeting with a priest (John Hurt), who counsels her and attempts to inspire a modicum of hopefulness within her. This acts as the binding and much-needed positive force throughout.
Jackie is an insightful and eye-opening look into a historical event from a completely different perspective. Not only is it an interesting and very detailed examination of Jackie Kennedy and her story, but it tackles a very human story about the complexities of grief, morals, family and faith.