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Peter Sarsgaard as "Bobby Kennedy" and Natalie Portman as "Jackie Kennedy" in JACKIE. Photo by Bruno Calvo. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved
Peter Sarsgaard as “Bobby Kennedy” and Natalie Portman as “Jackie Kennedy” in JACKIE. Photo by Bruno Calvo. © 2016 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

By Megan Bianco

It’s an interesting predicament when the success of a film that isn’t beloved by critics or audiences can still ride the coattails of the awards circuit with one brilliant performance. Four years ago it was how Daniel Day-Lewis won his third Oscar for Lincoln; two years ago, it was Julianne Moore’s overdue win with the quaint Still Alice; and this year, it’s Natalie Portman’s effort with the period piece Jackie. Pablo Larrain’s biopic on the 35th First Lady began with much hype, especially after the filmmaker’s critically praised No (2012) and The Club (2015). But a month into release, the only thing grabbing people is Portman.

A week after the assassination of then-President John F. Kennedy, a journalist (Billy Crudup) interviews the widow, Jacqueline Bouvier-Kennedy (Portman), to much frustration and lack of cooperation. In between this, Jackie has flashbacks to her marriage and life in the White House (and touring it for national television), all while grieving with her brother-in-law, Bobby (Peter Sarsgaard), and her priest (John Hurt).

After Fox Searchlight’s dealing with the backlash of Birth of a Nation four months earlier, they quickly switched their focus to Jackie for the fall season, but even here the studio can’t catch a break. The reasoning for the Kennedy film being a turn-off to viewers appears to be Larrain’s artsy direction, Mica Levi’s experimental score and the script not having any likable characters. While all of this is true to an extent, it’s still an intriguing, unique film worth seeing, if only for Portman’s imitation of Jackie’s accent.

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comments (2)

  • This is the STUPIDEST article I have read on any subject in a long, long time. And thats’ saying a lot in the current political atmosphere. So many errors! Good Lord, woman, did you even see it? Do you know anything about Jacqueline Kennedy? History?? Mrs. Kennedy was the 36th First Lady of the US, and her name is not hyphenated. Your biggest ignorance seems to be in the way you dismiss the movie, as being somehow hated by critics and audiences. Dunno who you talk to or read, but 99.9% of reviews rate it as excellent and Portmans’ performance as phenomenal. And one more. PERIOD PIECE?? Period piece. 1963?

  • Relax, it’s a review in the SC Times; not the Hollywood Reporter or Variety. We all know the story; and if we don’t, it’s because we lived on another planet. But as I settled into the movie, knowing how it would end, I was struck by Portman’s portrayal.

    That being said, it is a period piece. And a turning point in one of the darkest periods in American history. Yet Jackie in her darkest days, was the classiest widow, First Lady and mother to ever grace the White House. Hands down.

    The film is a reminder to take the high road which, unfortunately, is less traveled these days.

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