User Reviews (269)

  • Marx_Bros_Fan864 January 2017
    More of an indulgent fantasy than a biopic
    Warning: Spoilers
    I've seen many critics and commentators praise Jackie for being an accurate, intelligent, and insightful depiction of Jackie Kennedy and I'm a bit flabbergasted by this. This film came across to me as highly speculative, overly melodramatic, and distant all at the same time. Many of the film's techniques are praiseworthy, but this ultimately doesn't reach the level of a biopic like Patton or Malcolm X.

    Jackie follows the life of Jackie Kennedy (played by Natalie Portman) during the days after her husband's assassination. The film's framing device is an interview of Jackie with a journalist (Billy Crudup) at her home after the assassination. She imparts her story to the journalist to set the record straight about her life and her family's legacy. She is extremely controlling during the interview, telling the reporter what he can and can't write about her (even at one point saying she doesn't smoke while smoking a cigarette). The film flashes back and forth between the interview and the days after the assassination, focusing on Jackie's grieving. After showing the initial events after the assassination, Jackie tries to stave off a nervous breakdown while grappling with what her life means without her husband. Without him, she almost feels like her life is a waste. To handle this, she becomes obsessed with building the Camelot myth around the Kennedy family. She wants the Kennedys to be remembered as a grand, romantic family with a good legacy. She accomplishes this in part by planning a grand funeral for her husband against the wishes of the secret service, who desire a more modest ceremony for safety reasons.

    I have no doubt that Jackie was instrumental in building the mythology around JFK, and it's not a stretch to believe that she wanted to validate her own life in some way by doing this. Finally, she must have went through some kind of PTSD after the assassination. But the film attempts to show all of these things in ways that are indulgent, exploitative, and melodramatic. Take a scene where Jackie listens to Richard Burton's performance of Camelot while trying on various stylish dresses she had worn in the White House, all while sobbing hysterically. Or a scene where she admits to a priest that she might have planned all of the pomp and circumstance during the funeral to make her feel good about herself. These scenes feel like they came out of a National Enquirer article rather than a decent biography. Just five minutes of research will show that Jackie didn't even plan the funeral – it was planned by Robert Sargent Shriver. This film is all about mood, not accuracy. Needless to say, Jackie's vanity in this film is probably a tad bit exaggerated, and I question the veracity of pretty much every scene in the film.

    These flaws may have been somewhat forgivable if I felt like the character Jackie really came to life at any point, but I don't think she did. Using the interview as the framing device was a bit clumsy, and it's one of the many elements that really prevented me from being fully absorbed in the film. While the film is clearly trying to make points about Jackie's character, I feel like I'm being told about them. I don't feel them. But the cold distance between Jackie and the audience is partially because of Natalie Portman's performance. While her performance has been praised left and right, I found it to be overly rehearsed, almost mimicry. In a good biopic, there has to come a moment where the actor becomes the historical figure, and I don't think that happened here. I could say the same for the film's second largest part, Robert Kennedy. Peter Sarsgaard does not look or sound a thing like RFK.

    The movie isn't all bad. For all the flak I've given Portman, her performance is good overall, just not as good as her Black Swan performance in my opinion. The director Pablo Larrain uses close ups very effectively (in some of Portman's best moments), and he seamlessly blends archival footage with reenactments. There is a scene where Jackie looks out the window of the limousine at her husband's funeral, and the reflections of the people watching the funeral motorcade on the window looked an awful lot like archival footage to me. Real archival footage or not, it was an impressive effect. The score by Mica Levy is also haunting.

    Jackie was a pretty disappointing experience for me. It's more like an exercise in artistic filmmaking than a good story. Ideally you get both from a film. Not so here. I would wait for video if you want to see this film.
  • shola-3581821 January 2017
    As the film is titled 'Jackie' you expect to learn more about her through the film, it should have been called 'JFK's widow one week following his assassination'. This is a woman who was powerful and had a background, a life, buried two babies. All we get from this film is a portrayal of a grieving, often selfish and self absorbed woman who smokes and drinks too much. Who wouldn't fall to that after something as traumatic? The film is flat and bland, it gives us no indication of the type of woman she was, her role in white house (aside from her expensive renovations and insistence on a huge funeral for her husband) We see nothing of her personal achievements. Natalie Portman and the excellent cast's acting skills are the only interesting thing to watch. Disappointing and does 'Jackie O' no justice at all.
  • matthewbennett-2884228 March 2017
    Warning: Spoilers
    Portman gives a great performance and she carries the impersonation of Jackie very well but this movie is a snooze-fest. It's like the same scene is being played over and over in different locations with different people, so after the first 10 minutes, you feel like you've seen it all before. I didn't learn anything new from this movie. It's exactly what you expect would have happened. Husband gets assassinated whilst sitting next to her. She is wracked with grief and a complete emotional wreck but does her best to hold it together. She deliberates over what sort of funeral there should be. The End.
  • Turfseer4 February 2017
    Portman's "Jackie" is much more neurotic than poised
    Warning: Spoilers
    There are few films that I question the necessity of making in the first place. Jackie, a historical drama chronicling our former first lady's practical and emotional reactions to the events leading up to and during the funeral of our 35th president, is one such film. What possibly can be learned about someone's life chronicling the time period leading up to a funeral—an event where any person would be most vulnerable?

    Instead of perhaps imagining what kind of relationship Jackie had with Jack Kennedy when he was alive, director Pablo Larrain prefers to bring us pale imitations of historical TV broadcasts (such as Jackie's famed 1962 televised tour of the White House) or the more salacious exploding head of JFK when he's hit by the assassin's bullet (haven't we seen enough of that on Youtube in clip after clip of the Zapruder film?).

    Larrain, utilizing a screenplay by Noah Oppenheim, creates a fictional framing device, an imagined interview between Jackie Kennedy and a fictional reporter (played by a somewhat unkempt Billy Crudup) at Hyannisport, asking a slew of inappropriate questions of Jackie regarding her recent recollection as to the the events leading up to JFK's funeral.

    Even if one concedes there is a necessity in presenting such a behind the scenes look, there has to be a determined verisimilitude in the presentation. Actors have to look and sound like the historical personages they're playing; otherwise, the events won't seem real at all, and one will get the impression that we're looking at a mere imitation of the events as opposed to the real McCoy.

    The number one offender here is of course Natalie Portman, who does fairly well in re-creating Jackie's way of speaking which reminds one of a muted Carol Channing, but is unable to convey any of her poise or gravitas. Instead, she aims to present Jackie as a neurotic, perhaps made more unhinged by the assassination. Mick LaSalle, writing in the SF Chronicle, hits the nail on the head when he writes: "But no insight can be gleaned or arrived at through a portrayal of Jackie Kennedy as having been a fragile, emotional cripple at the height of her influence and popularity. Once that happens, we're just not talking about the same woman anymore, and all that's left is an actress playing dress-up in a bloodstained pink Chanel suit and a pillbox hat."

    Worse than Portman is Peter Sarsgaard as Bobby Kennedy. In perhaps the worst casting choice in a few decades, Sarasgaard doesn't look or sound like Bobby in the least and appears as a strange interloper opposite Portman. John Carroll Lynch as LBJ also doesn't feel like he inhabits the body of our former president but Beth Grant is great as Lady Bird and Caspar Phillipson is decent enough as JFK, during the brief scenes in which he appears.

    In addition to the salacious moments of the assassination itself, the Jackie "plot" mainly focuses on her indecision as to whether the participants at the funeral should walk with the casket, causing security concerns. There are more effective moments where Jackie must explain JFK's death to Caroline and John Jr., but even those somehow feel intrusive, even after all these years. Speaking of intrusive, director Larrain is determined to inject Mica Levi's overly mournful music into almost scene, reminding us that we're continually in the midst of a funeral.

    Only the late John Hurt as a consoling priest to Jackie brings any true gravitas to the overall proceedings.

    If you wish to learn about Jackie Kennedy there are many documentaries and features that are way better than this one. Kyle Smith writing in the NY Post perhaps provides the most efficient benediction for this hapless project: "Jackie" does more than a disservice — bordering on an insult — to its subject: It's so obtuse about the history of mores that it's the equivalent of showing Abraham Lincoln reading the Gettysburg Address off a teleprompter."
  • velvetcrowbar9117 September 2016
    A Stunning, Psychological Portrait of Glamorous Trama
    Throughout the history of cinema, there have been countless biopics of famous figures that deify their subjects and disregard faults in fear of tainting the idol they have so perfectly sculpted. In Jackie, however, Pablo Larrain subverts genre expectations in favor of a haunting psychological portrait of a woman caught in a terrifying piece of history. Famous images of Jacqueline Kennedy in her pink Chanel suit have lingered in the public's collective memory for years, but here, Larrain allows viewers to experience the week following JFK's assassination from the perspective of the woman who held his dying body in her arms. It's shot in an episodic, frantic format that replicates the psychological turmoil of post-traumatic stress as the line between past and present blurs. One ghostly scene in particular - soundtracked by Mica Levi's eerie score - follows Jackie as she wanders the White House in isolation, exploring various rooms and eventually falling asleep alone as a widow for the first time. The film's central performance by Natalie Portman will no doubt gain great attention for its dedication to every last nuance of Jackie Kennedy's mannerisms and voice, but the real success rests in Portman's relentless and layered conveyance of emotion throughout the film. She does not allow the iconic figure to become a one-dimensional reflection of the public's memory, but allows viewers to witness the conflicted feelings of nostalgia, grief, isolation, and tenacity that Kennedy experienced. The film successful solidifies the lingering of Kennedy's melancholic face as a fleeting vision set across the 60s horizon, luminous and bruised at once, but enduring through history.
  • Red_Identity25 December 2016
    Mesmerizing, dreamlike, and powerful.
    I'm not really familiar with Pablo Larraín's work. I hadn't seen any of his other films prior to watching Jackie. And yet I was still very excited for it because it sounded like something that was absolutely my cup of tea. Hearing reports that Academy members weren't liking it very much, and then hearing exactly why (because it wasn't your usual biopic and seemed to be more "out there" than most biopics) just got me more excited. It didn't disappoint at all. It was basically everything I wanted it to be. One of the finest, truest character studies of the year, completely driven by explorations into Jackie Kennedy's psyche. That sounds kind of pretentious, but I do think this film more than any other of the year deserves to be described that way. I would absolutely not be surprised if the Academy doesn't go for this at all, but I do wish it was popping up in more critic awards than it has been. More than any other film of the year it rests completely on its lead actress. Portman is just completely engaging and mesmerizing, and she adds to the film's poetry-like storytelling. Having seen both Portman and Emma Stone, I would be surprised if they gave the Oscar to Stone simply because Portman is basically her entire film and she's also completely immersed into the character in a way that Stone doesn't need to be. The latter's role may just be too light. Regardless, it's a performance to be talked about and remembered.

    I appreciate when I leave a film feeling as though there's still so much left to unpack and to uncover about it, meaning that I wasn't able to completely discover all of its aims and goals in one viewing. To me that's the sign of a very well thought out film, a film that will leave a lingering impact. That's exactly how I came out of this. I'm sure not everyone here will take to it, but count me as one of its fans.
  • Vash01 D11 January 2017
    Disappointing and Overrated
    Warning: Spoilers
    I went to see this movie mainly because I had read rave reviews of Natalie Portman's performance, which according to some, will certainly win her her second Oscar.

    I cannot adequately express my disappointment in the movie and in Portman's performance. The first thing that bothered me was the horrible accent she had put on. I don't know if Jackie Kennedy really spoke this way but it felt forced, artificial. She was good at expressing grief, but I was unable to feel any sympathy. This is shocking, considering how devastating the event - JFK assassination- was to the whole country.

    In this movie Jackie came across as self centered, which can be forgiven, considering the magnitude of her loss. Natalie Portman couldn't touch me emotionally. The frequent close ups were annoying. We know she was devastated, but it was unnecessary to show closeups if her blood stained face, crying and tears again and again.

    The worst part of the movie was the interview which went into the past, in segments, asking how she felt, and Portman's acting in those scenes was way below her ability. Natalie Portman is a good actress, but in thus movie she felt artificial. It was totally unnecessary to create the interviews. If the point of the movie was to show Jackie Kennedy's feelings and courage at the worst time of her life, a more direct approach might have worked better. The screenplay, background score, direction were all deficient in putting life into this tragic story. I couldn't wait for the movie to end.

    The saving grace was the costumes and the White House interior at that time. They were wonderful. Acting wise no one other than 'Jackie' had much room. The screenplay certainly didn't help.

    The whole movie felt like someone wanted to create a movie that would show Natalie Portman on the screen all the time. Sadly she remained Natalie Portman to me. She never felt like Jackie Kennedy.
  • ds0186221 February 2017
    boring horrible movie
    Warning: Spoilers
    I could not understand a word she was saying half the time like she was mumbling, no shot of JFK Jr. when he saluted his fathers coffin an very important moment. it bounces around and becomes confusing as the what the hell is going on. what a waste of time. I am so sorry I even watched it kept hoping it would get better but no such luck
  • Martin Bradley19 February 2017
    Avoid at all costs.
    Beyond bad! Whether it was the material that defeated him or simply working in English from a script that was never that good in the first place, Pablo Larrain's "Jackie" is a classic example of how not to attempt a biopic but then, of course, this isn't really a biopic at all but an account of the Kennedy assassination and the events immediately following it as told to a journalist by Jackie herself.

    In the title role Natalie Portman does bear some physical resemblance to her character but she, too, is defeated by the demands of the part; this isn't acting but mimicry and other fine actors follow suit. People who really ought to know better approach their roles as if this were sacred text and as if to compound the miserableness we have to endure a ponderous, yet Oscar-nominated by Mica Levi. Avoid at all costs.
  • ptone-9320723 April 2017
    Hopefully this is not the future of American cinema
    I've given this my harshest rating yet. One wonders how something like this abomination gets greenlighted. Although the overall concept of focusing on Jackie in the immediate aftermath of the assassination isn't a poor concept in theory (although one wonders what greater understanding of the public would result, or of what value that would actually be), in practice the film fails to convey much more than to purport a great deal of alternating anger and helplessness (but not grief) by JFK's widow.

    It uses a device throughout the film, that of showing Jackie's performance in a televised tour of the White House, juxtaposed with those feelings I have mentioned. The intent may be to show that Jackie was just a phony, a hard bitch that chainsmoked and stomped around ranting when she wasn't alone, walking zombielike around the West Wing (but was not so self-absorbed that she didn't completely ignore her children). If this is indeed the intent, it's an especially mean-spirited way of doing it, as we are given only brief glimpses of a living JFK.

    But what makes this a truly awful film is the script and the directing. It's difficult to direct from a bad script, of course, but the protracted use of extreme closeups with an accompanying ominous, repetitious, pounding musical score makes the bad dialogue cringeworthy. The most egregious examples of this occur in the scenes with RFK and the priest. The words written for Bobby are particularly unbelievable and out of character, and both Peter Sarsgaard and Natalie Portman deliver their poorly-written lines with the effort one would expect in a film that just represents a payday for everyone involved.

    It's unclear if any of the events and conversations depicted are factual; but I have some real suspicions that the film makers just made this stuff up. It's a soulless film that doesn't get or seem to want any emotional investment from the audience, and once it's over with, you just think, why spend all this time and effort on such a dismal project?
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