Jackie

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“Jackie” has opened to good reviews. Natalie Portman is to be congratulated for her costuming and ability to look gorgeous in 20-foot across misty close ups. She has a soft and vulnerable face and can cry effectively without disturbing its perfect beauty. She captures the breathy little girl whispers of Jackie Kennedy as she swans through the White House in a famous presentation of her redecorating and furniture sourcing efforts. However, an entire movie cannot be built on stunning 1960s suits and dresses, and preparations for a funeral cortege. This was arguably the longest “preparation” movie since depictions of the lead up to the Normandy landings on D-Day in “The Longest Day.”

There are high points. The by-play between her and the journalist played by the yummy but quirky Billy Crudup was effective, and one wanted more of the verbal jousting. It was here that the positive spirit and grit of Jackie Kennedy is experienced; the woman who won a Vogue prize to begin her journalism career; the woman who caught the eye of Jack Kennedy and stuck it out; the woman who captured the imagination of a generation; the woman who then married Aristotle Onassis, shocking an adoring nation; and the woman who having lived through triumph and tragedy, made and controlled her own legend.

Her encounters with her priest, played by the great John Hurt (sadly recently deceased), are touching, impressive and have emotional momentum. He eases into his role as father confessor and mediator of the Angel of Death and destruction. He gives a truly priceless lesson in acting. At first meeting with her he seems superficial and lost for words. Slowly he reveals his depth of feeling and understanding of the mystery of our existence. He cannot comfort her, but he can take her side on this painful journey. This was the beating heart of the movie. Otherwise, there were many short appearances by some very good actors, including Richard E. Grant and Peter Saarsgard, but on the whole it seemed at times as if one was walking through Jell-o.

The assassination of John F. Kennedy was one of the turning points in modern American history. It wasn’t the death of Lincoln, no, not quite, more like a warning call that the DREAM could be not only be endangered but killed. America elected Jack Kennedy as the first of a new generation of leaders in a post-war country with problems to solve. We live with that legacy to this day.

Kaaren Hale

 

 

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Posted: 02/03/17 by Fred Rubinstein

Natalie Portman does a memorable job of reproducing the multiple facets of Jackie Kennedy — the wide-eyed, breathless, artificial naïveté during her famous White House tour with CBS’s Charles Collingwood, the grief-stricken widow and mother, and the calculating myth-creator with the sounds of Camelot in the background. Caspar Phillipson, who plays Jack Kennedy in his brief appearances, has an amazing physical resemblance to the President but the rest of the cast is less convincing. I found it distracting that Peter Sarsgaard, who plays Bobby Kennedy, neither looks nor sounds like Bobby, and that Lyndon Johnson looks like a prosperous businessman who stumbled into the wrong convention.

The movie accurately depicts the physical elements of the Kennedy funeral and its elaborate and lengthy procession but, having wept at the original, I found the reenactment hollow and lacking genuine feeling. The musical score, loud, intrusive and with discordant stringed instruments, tries to supply the missing emotion in those scenes, and others, but only succeeds in diverting attention from the screen.

Natalie Portman is deserving of her Academy Award nomination but the film is disappointing. The good news is that the reserved, reclining seats at Cinema I are very comfortable.

 

Posted: 01/05/17 by Doug Anderson

For those of us who lived through JFK’s murder, few of us used that word or thought through the first week of this tragedy through Jackie Kennedy’s eyes. How many of us even knew Jackie? In this film, those who wrote and directed this work of art drilled-deep with great success. Natalie Portman is spectacular. Dale and I would say that this is a don’t-miss movie.

 

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