Wednesday, January 18, 2017
First of all let me say that if you are wanting a movie that goes in depth about the assassination of President Kennedy, this is not your movie. That scene exists in the movie and I'll talk about it later, but this doesn't dive into the investigation of his death and all the conspiracy that follow due to the fact that the man who shot him was also shot shortly after. This is all about how Jackie dealt with the loss of her husband. Here was a woman who had pretty much everything she wanted in life. I mean, her husband was the President of the United States. He was far from perfect, but he was still her husband and she loved him and it was a great position to be in. But then in a moment's notice, all of that was ripped away from her and now she is left as a widow with two young children. I don't care who you are, the death of a husband is an awful thing for a woman to have to experience and I would imagine it would be especially tough if that woman really wasn't able to have a ton of privacy to mourn his loss due to her position. This is not an in-depth biopic of Jackie's whole life. In fact, this focuses mainly on that brief period of time between her husband's assassination and his funeral and what she went through during that time, which had to have been devastating.
If we're making comparisons here, Natalie Portman's performance is definitely on par with that of Daniel Day-Lewis' performance as Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln." Definitely an Oscar-worthy performance for Natalie. Does she deserve to win? Well that's a bit tricky. Her main competition will be against Amy Adams from "Arrival" and Emma Stone from "La La Land." That's a hard one for me to choose. I really want Amy Adams to finally win an Oscar, but I don't think it should be a lifetime achievement award, so to speak. "Arrival" wasn't even Amy's best performance of the year. Even though "Arrival" is the better movie, I think "Nocturnal Animals" was the better movie. And "La La Land" is my favorite movie of the year and possibly my favorite movie of the decade and much of that lies on the shoulders of Emma Stone, who is one of my favorite actresses. But if I am isolating the specific performance, I think Natalie Portman gives the best performance of the three. We'll see who rounds out the final five when nominations come out, but I don't think I'd pick Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Isabelle Huppert, Ruth Negga or Annette Bening, either. Give the Oscar to Natalie!
So yes, I've established the fact that Natalie Portman gives an absolutely phenomenal performance, but how about the actual movie she is in? Well, that gets a bit tricky. I think there are a lot of amazing individual scenes in this movie. Perhaps it's the journalist in me, but I loved the scenes where the journalist is interviewing Jackie. That was such a crazy interview and an interview like that would be an absolute blast to conduct. She was quite the character in that interview as she would say things and go off on an emotional tangent, but then she'd tell the interviewer that she didn't say that. Then there were times where she became the interviewer and started interrogating the journalist and asking him questions. Then she would state that she would be editing the interview to make sure the quotes are what she wants rather than what she actually said. It was quite the fun interview and the dynamic between these two. The other moments that I loved were moments between Jackie and a priest. This is where Jackie was able to pour her whole soul out and express how she really felt without the pressure of her statements being published or broadcast to the world. Combine the journalist and priest scenes and you have quite the character study here for Jackie Kennedy that makes you really appreciate how she handled this horrific situation.
So I don't know what to do with this movie as a whole. I don't want to say it was bad. Because it wasn't. I sincerely believe that Natalie Portman gave a legendary performance that deserves the win in a very crowded race. And if you isolate all the individual scenes, the movie is a fascinating character study that dives into the life of Jackie Kennedy directly following the assassination of her husband. Given her situation, she wasn't allowed a ton of privacy and all things considered she handled it pretty well, but when she did get some privacy, those scenes are very powerful. But all these scenes with this fantastic performance weren't glued together very well. I found myself loving the performance and being intrigued by this character study, but I wasn't loving the movie as a whole. I've seen a lot of other biopics that work much better as a movie. The scenes didn't connect together super well and there wasn't a strong overall story arc. This should've been a much more powerful movie than it actually was. Giving one grade to this movie is hard. Natalie gets a perfect score. A lot of individual scenes and moments get a perfect score. But in grading the overall movie, I feel I can only give "Jackie" a 7/10, but one number doesn't do this justice, so take that for what it's worth.