JACKIE review

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Can anyone understand what it’s like to have lived in the White House and then, suddenly, to be living alone as the President’s widow?

It goes without saying that the wife of the President of the United States, or First Lady respectfully, usually has a great deal of attention directed her way…whether she asked for it or not. Being in the spotlight is par for the course and this is especially relevant given the recent inauguration of Donald Trump. All of a sudden, his wife Melania Trump was put under the microscope and the stark contrast was made by many in comparison to the recently former First Lady, Michelle Obama. Many also looked to Melania as a symbol of class and grace too…all because she was married to the President. So it’s interesting that we are given a retrospective movie on one of the most famous women in American History and probably the most famous First Lady, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, just as the new presidency has started.

The movie Jackie is an intriguing look into the life of Jackie Kennedy shortly after the assassination of her husband, John F. Kennedy. While we do get glimpses into her life pre assassination, there is an amazing recreation of her White House tour she did on live TV that is remarkably accurate, most of this movie deals with the immediate aftermath of JFK’s death and how Jackie copes with the grief and deals with the responsibility of making sure her husband receives a proper funeral.  There aren’t any spoilers here….this is well known American history. The film provides a reminder that this assassination was not something that these politicians were used to and their paranoia provided a difficult obstacle in regards to making preparations for the funeral of President Kennedy. These were challenges that Jackie mainly had to deal with. She also had to deal with the issue of how regal this funeral ceremony should be. After all, we are reminded that President Kennedy only served for two years and didn’t accomplish anything as grand as another President that was assassinated, President Lincoln. However, he was a beloved President and he did die serving this country.

Jackie Kennedy is played by Natalie Portman and its eerie how well she does this . This movie is basically the Natalie Portman show. She has experience playing royalty after all (Star Wars) but she proved how capable of an actress she really is. Her transformation into Jackie is pretty dumbfounding…the whole time I was watching; I almost completely forgot that I was watching Portman.  Natalie looks like Jackie and even sounds like her as she nailed the accent. It is absolutely brilliant. Portman does an excellent job conveying that while Jackie was seen as someone at ease with the spotlight, she was also a human who was overwhelmed by the situation at times.  The awkwardness that preceded her having to move from the White House because she was no longer First Lady all while making funeral arrangements made for quite the tense situation. We are reminded there was no official protocol for this. Jackie was the first First Lady to have to deal with this in the modern era and no one is better to showcase this than Natalie Portman.

While this movie is probably worth watching just to see the ghost of Jackie Kennedy reincarnated by Natalie Portman, it’s not a fun movie to watch. It’s serious, sad and somber. There are no surprise endings here either.  It’s a great biopic movie that gives us a tremendous glimpse into the mind of the recently widowed First Lady however.  All of this is fascinating stuff and it is interesting.  Jackie is just not that enjoyable though. This is a conundrum indeed because Jackie is a movie worth watching but probably not more than once.

Grade: B-

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