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Life at the Movies

You may have your preferred section–the newspaper interview with Jacqueline Kennedy or her handling of grief–but Jackie (2016) comes together all very well as a whole.

The film goes back and forth from Jackie Kennedy’s newspaper interview at her home in Massachusetts, to her grief immediately after her husband President John Kennedy’s assassination.

Interview and grief

The film starts in Massachusetts, after the assassination and two years in the White House, as if life had begun anew for Jackie there.

At her home in Massachusetts, a reporter (Billy Crudup) is asking Jackie for her thoughts and feelings about her husband’s assassination. It seems the issue is still raw and unresolved. She is detached and evasive during the interview. She has a hard exterior.

In the scenes immediately after John Kennedy’s assassination, we see her emotional reactions, and Jackie’s grief is all consuming and not understated. The grief is there for all to see in a language we can understand.

We also see Jackie’s strong-willed determination to proceed with the funeral the way she wants. Though others in the White House do not endorse her plans.

Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy stands out, but Peter Sarsgaard as Bobby Kennedy, who plays the role of Jackie’s friend and confidante, Greta Gerwig, John Hurt, and Richard E. Grant are all very good. They play characters who in some way are involved in Jackie’s life straight after the assassination.

The cinematography, set design and use of old stock convey the sense of time and place, in the 1960’s.

The music is effective, striking a note of melancholy, which underlines Jackie’s grief.

Some may say that this movie is too somber, but it’s affecting. It takes us on an intimate journey through grief, with skillful use of close-ups and space. Natalie Portman’s frequent change of costume as Jackie Kennedy indicates a changing state of mind, from a kind of depression to recovering.

Jackie is one of those films that some may say is dull, but really isn’t. There is a point when you enter this film and once you’re in…

* * * * * (out of * * * * * stars)

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