By guest blogger, Jodi McDonough

I’m not going to lie. When I was a little girl, I thought I was the reincarnation of JFK. I have read the books, taken the tour at Dealey Plaza and been obsessed with every conspiracy theory as long as I can remember. To watch Jackie is to feel like you are physically there on November 22,1963 at that precise moment of his death and I’m here to tell you, it was gut-wrenching.

Natalie Portman is the embodiment of Jackie Kennedy. Her emotional grief is so palpable throughout the entire movie and yet, she stays strong and moves forward. She moves through washing the blood off of her body, through the planning of the funeral, John John’s birthday party and ultimately moving out of the White House and into the unknown.

Natalie Portman as “Jackie Kennedy” in JACKIE. Photo by Stephanie Branchu. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Peter Sarsgaard provides some solace for her as Bobby Kennedy. His accent isn’t quite as sharp as RFK’s. He doesn’t have those flashy pearly whites but the audience can look past these lacking attributes, as he is one of only a few people that she can truly rely on and he plays it well. They are a team and they are fighting together to get through these seven days. She takes the reigns and becomes the person who cultivates how JFK will be remembered. She has one goal amidst the chaos and that is to make sure that Jack lives on in the world’s hearts forever.

Flashbacks to her televised tour of the White House are seamlessly integrated into the flow of the movie. Each flashback  features a bright palette filled with color and life and happiness and it is such a stark contrast to the present. You can see that she is uncomfortable with her role in front of the camera. She is not used to being center stage. These two moments in her life are the focus of the movie and they show her emerging from Jack’s shadow. All cameras are focused on her…and she ultimately rose to the occasion and shined in each moment.

Natalie Portman on the set of JACKIE. Photo by Pablo Larrain. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

Most of the shots in this movie are symmetrical.  Not crazy perfectly symmetrical like Wes Anderson’s films but they are framed to feature Jackie. She is the focus. She is the one we need to narrow in on. You feel her aloneness, her solitude and fear throughout. This film is quiet and lonely and haunting. The score is almost scary at times with its violins and strings slicing through at the cataclysmic moments. It is uncomfortable and that’s what the film ultimately captures.  We are watching grief, in its soul-squeezing and most awful moments. This movie is about closing one door and opening another and it is exquisitely executed.

Jackie opens December 16, 2016.

 

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