Jackie

‘There will be great presidents again, but there will never be another Camelot.’ – Jacqueline Kennedy

A multitude of films and books have explored the history surrounding the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy (Caspar Phillipson), but none have portrayed the account of the woman at the centre of this tragedy. Jackie comes from the notes of Theodore H. White (Billy Crudup) and the LIFE magazine article with the iconic First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy (Natalie Portman). Director Pablo Larraín delivers the account of this intimate discussion between White and Kennedy. Interspersed are flashback accounts of the events in Dallas, Texas and all of the subsequent events that follow, including the President’s funeral. This looking-glass journey provides exceptional detail of Jackie’s tragic experiences and shows how people treated her during one of the most significant events in world history.

For those who have studied the events surrounding President Kennedy’s death, many of the details in Jackie will be familiar, but from a different angle. The effect is a dark and haunting journey alongside one of the most recognisable, but reclusive women in history. Natalie Portman (Black Swan) pours herself into the character and shows a very human side to the misunderstood political icon. With the disturbing precision  of Black Swan and V for Vendetta, she proves her exceptional ability to delve into the psychological and physical aspects of the role. She shows her ability to be captivating in every scene regardless of what is being portrayed historically. This award-winning actress is able to show the pain and anguish of a woman and wife that is caught in an extraordinary situation. Even when she is smiling, Portman is able to convey the melancholic demeanour and existence of this woman who became symbolic of the end of an era. She is back to her best work and delivers one of her best performances of the year.

The subject matter that surrounds her performance, albeit recognisable to most, remains dark and depressing. The events around the assassination still manages to draw out emotions of anger, sorrow and intrigue, especially after seeing the mistreatment of the First Lady during this devastating portion of her life. Building on the accounts leading up to the tragic events in Texas shows a marriage that was surprisingly detached from one another. This is divergent from how they were portrayed in the media as a loving couple. The coldness of their relationship was successfully covered in a sparking veneer that still remains in many people’s eyes today. Nothing about Noah Oppenheim’s (Allegiant) script provides any light to enter into this somber tale. It merely delivers the audience a shadowy glimpse into history that leaves little to celebrate in Jackie other than Natalie Portman’s performance.

REEL DIALOGUE: What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?

John 9:2-5 As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Even though it was misused in the film, it is an exceptional passage to open the discussion on suffering. It is an example of God’s mysterious ways and how some of life’s difficulties can be a means of showing mercy and grace in people’s lives. This is a portion of the Bible that merely opens the door to the conversation, if you would like to discuss more about this topic contact our team at City Bible Forum.

Passages on suffering: Romans 5:3-5, 1 Peter 5:10, Revelation 21:4

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Russell Matthews

Russell loves film and enjoys engaging in discussions about the latest cinema offerings and then connecting this with the Gospel. He has worked for City Bible Forum for over 10 years, is a reviewer for Insights Magazine and Entertainment Fuse and has a blog called Russelling Reviews. He moderates events for Reel Dialogue which connect the film industry with the general public.