This review won’t really be spoilery, but obviously if you want to go into the film completely blank I’d skip out now. Just know it’s a really well done film on a tough topic.
The film is disconcerting at first because Natalie Portman’s acting is so artificial. A reviewer I repect didn’t quite get this and had to see the film a second time. I figured it out pretty quickly, but still suspect I’d get something out of a second or third viewing.
The film covers the well known JFK assassination but entirely from the perspective of Jackie Kennedy. An historical event that has up to now always been told from the perspective of the men involved.
The complexity of Jackie Kennedy’s position wasn’t covered in previous films but is here. She had to present an image and had to deal with public reactions. As a public figure but also as a person. I’ve always found the role of First Lady odd - there’s an expectation that a President’s wife has to do things and then she’s judged rather harshly when she does things.
Natalie Portman portrays this brilliantly. The oddness of this position in such a horrific situation is artificial and strange. How she navigates this emotionally and officially is heart-wrenching and inspiring. She is a human being approaching a complex situation that just keeps pouring onto her.
One thing it really highlighted to me is how frustrating it is to not see more women’s stories in film. And when I finally did catch Loving I thought the same thing. Jackie is well crafted and if not enjoyable, it is satisfying. You walk away imagining what it would be like to be Jackie - tied up in history, tragedy and an odd form of celebrity. Natalie Portman’s humanising performance cuts through all that and pulls you in. This is a well-trod topic and yet the story was unknown because her story was overlooked.
Hoping Portman brings the same intensity into the Ruth Bader Ginsburg film “On the Basis of Sex.”