Rating: 14/20 (Jen: 13/20)
Plot: Jackie Kennedy, in the aftermath of her husband's assassination, tries to survive.
There's a surprising, graphic, probably exploitative scene in this that made me want to subtract a point from my overall rating. But then I remembered a scene where Jackie takes off her blood-stained pink dress, and I turned to Jennifer, who wasn't paying much attention at that point, and said, "Hey, you're missing a Jackie Kennedy stripping scene!" and we laughed and laughed. What a beautiful moment to share.
Well, I had typed out one of the best blog entries ever written, but it didn't save and is now gone. Prepare to be disappointed as you read this.
I really did hate that Kennedy money-shot, like the makers of this said, "Hey, let's not use the Zapruder film like everybody else. Let's film our own with a close-up of Kennedy's exit wound--or would that be an entrance wound?--and really get in there so that the viewer can truly understand what Jackie Kennedy must have been going through!" It was gratuitous, right there in the final third of the movie because maybe that's where it would have the most impact. Or something. The scene stuck out like a guy opening and closing an umbrella on the grassy knoll on a day when no umbrella was needed.
I'm going to have to rewatch that scene with Oliver Stone and Kevin Costner to figure out if that was an entrance or exit wound.
It infuriates me because it wasn't needed to show anything about Jackie Kennedy's psychological make-up during that personal tragedy that unfortunately had to be a very public tragedy. Portman's performance is good enough to do that for us. I wasn't sure about that performance for a while. It seemed like she was trying a bit too hard to win an Oscar, and I thought her accent was all over the place. Of course, I don't know much about the real Jackie Kennedy. Maybe her accent was all over the place, too? But this is the type of movie written and directed for one actress to show off, and Portman seizes key opportunities to really impress. There are certain scenes that really grabbed me because Portman's performance lets the viewer get a glimpse into the mind of a complex human being. When Portman is great here, she's really really great.
I wasn't sure about the movie's score either. Strings, oppressive ones, didn't really feel liked they matched what was happening visually. A bent, descending note grabbed my attention, and I started paying more attention. Turns out, the score is from Mica Levi, the composer who did Under the Skin, a movie score that managed to seep into my bones and still haunts me a bit a couple years after seeing the movie. I ended up really liking the music, and I liked it because it didn't always match my expectations. It added to the fragmented storytelling.
I did really like the film's structure, something my wife didn't care for at all. It's not a biopic, which I was thankful for, and it's not a story told in chronological order. Instead, it's an impressionistic character study of a woman who really is a bit of a puzzle. It drifts between the trying times in the week following the assassination, an interview with a Time reporter, pieces of a reconstructed White House tour, and happier Camelot times. The film's a mosaic, and I thought the structure fit perfectly with the emotions of the character.
I might like this movie more than I think I like it. The score might be affected by this movie's unfortunate ability to make me recall Parkland.
I'm not proofreading this one. I've already spent way too much time writing about Jackie.
Edit: I forgot to mention that Peter Sarsgaard is in this movie, too. He's been a busy guy. He played Robert Kennedy and didn't really look or sound like him. I was thrown off by the Sarsgaard, and he's starting to seem as ubiquitous as Benedict Cumberbatch or Sam Rockwell.