After seeing Vox Lux just a few weeks ago, I really wasn’t keen to jump back into a Natalie Portman performance; especially after how horrific her recent performances have been. Unfortunately, I then remembered I’d yet to see Jackie and it had been on my watchlist for a horrifically long time. With its ominous presence on Netflix haunting me like a monster at the feast, I thought it was necessary to plough on through a biopic I’d been meaning to watch for years.
By and large, Portman’s performance as Jackie is one that should’ve received more critical attention and flair than it actually did. Quite possibly the best on-screen performance she has delivered in a very long time, her portrayal as the bereaved First Lady is a touching and moving piece that showcases not only the versatility of Portman but also the headstrong attitude of Jackie Kennedy.
Her performance takes centre stage, however there are a handful of supporting performances scattered throughout the movie that make it well worth the watch. Richard E. Grant makes a dashingly brief appearance as ever, as does John Hurt, in sadly one of his final film roles. Grant and Hurt add that beautiful charm only they can to the movie and it’s a real treat to see them on camera with Portman in such prolific and visually pleasing scenes.
In a similar fashion to First Reformed (and I don’t just mean the 4:3 format), Jackie is filled to the brim with recognisable faces. Beyond Hurt and Grant, there are also some great supporting performances from Billy Crudup, Greta Gerwig and even John Carrol Lynch, who appears in more and more prolific roles as the years go by. Again, the rest of these supporting cast members give very strong, albeit forgettable performances. Not because they’re bad performances, but because Portman outshines everyone.
Pablo Larrain’s direction is beautiful, a really strong effort is made to create an auteur bubble of Jackie Kennedy’s week after the death of her husband. It’s a perfect display, mixing some generally pleasing direction with a strongly written script. The only fault is that it’s not the most complex of pieces, leaving much to be desired by the later performances throughout the movie.
It’s certainly a movie worth watching, especially for those history buffs out there in need of a slice of auteur biopic. Jackie Kennedy’s story is a very interesting one, and Jackie does its best to tell it in a shorter timeframe than expected, leading to some very mixed results but a resounding and memorable Natalie Portman performance.