Jackie (2016)

2 Kernels

On November 22, 1963, I was thirteen years old. (Yes, I’m that old.) Some memories are burned into your brain that never fade away. One of those in my life was the date President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. I was in school when the news was announced to the class. Instantly, many broke out in inconsolable tears, and I remember running off to the restroom to cry with other girls over the tragic announcement. The days that followed were somber in our nation.

Having lived through the time period, I thought that I would stream Jackie. The movie is an intimate look into Jackie’s life as First Lady and the hours and days that followed after the tragedy in Dallas. Natalie Portman definitely deserved the Oscar nomination for her performance of this iconic woman. And as highly rated as the movie itself has been on Rotten Tomatoes from critics, it is obvious that it’s difficult to separate her performance from the movie production itself. Unfortunately, I found the manner in which the story was told decidedly painful in many respects. I could easily give Portman a five-kernel accolade but leave the movie itself with a two-kernal review.

Rather than walking through those days in sequential order, Jackie narrates to a reporter her experience as First Lady, Jack’s assassination, and the days that followed. It’s a disjointed effort that removes the audience from the event itself. However, this movie is not about Jack Kennedy it’s about Jacqueline Kennedy, and her innermost emotions during this painful time. Perhaps the screenwriter chose to bring Jackie’s life and sorrows in this fashion to enhance the narration it provides. Who really knows, though, the intent and truth of what had gone through her mind and heart? Rather than keeping the audience engaged, it becomes a tedious one hour and thirty-five minutes of listening to Portman’s monotone vocal dissertation of the events. In doing so, it rarely allows the audience to experience the shock, sorrow, and depressing aftermath of assassination first hand. Once again, though, this is not about Jack – it’s about Jackie.

The days of President Kennedy’s time in office from January 20, 1961, to November 22, 1963, were often coined as being in Camelot. Jackie had performed her duty as First Lady with grace and dignity as a highly educated woman who loved her country. However, the instant the gunshot rang out and tore through her husband’s brain, leaving her covered in blood, her perfect life had shattered like his skull. The prestige and position had been ripped away and given to another. Though Jackie admits in the movie that every First Lady should be prepared to one day leave the White House, it is obvious by the end of the movie that her departure had been a cruel and unexpected turn of events.

This movie is not an engaging emotional retelling of the assassination, but a rather an attempt to the inner workings of Jackie Kennedy during that time period.  It’s not for those easily bored but if you’re fascinated about this woman, you may find it of interest. Afterward, you might agree with me that it would have been better served in a documentary format rather than a motion picture.

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