The assassination of John F. Kennedy is a story we know well. But in Jackie, director Pablo Larrain focuses almost solely on his wife and how she shaped the Kennedy legacy on her own. Here's what critics are saying:
- Natalie Portman "verily channels Jackie herself" in a "simply magnetic" performance, but Jackie is "a perfect film because all of the details are perfect together," writes Katie Walsh for the Tribune News Service, praising everything from the cinematography to the score. Put together, they create an "intimate and existential" film "about trauma, loss and grief, but also the careful creation of an American mythic icon."
- "There's a mesmeric intensity to Jackie that's unlike any biopic of its kind, marked by a deliberate effort to narrow the scope to one woman's actions and reactions over the course of a few fraught days," writes Scott Tobias at NPR. "Larrain draws us into the utter uniqueness of a situation where personal loss and national duty collided so violently" and relies "on Natalie Portman's expressive face to tell much of the story."
- A "transfixing" Portman "will floor you with her tour de force as the former First Lady," as she "tops her Oscar-winning role in Black Swan," writes Peter Travers at Rolling Stone. The "spellbinding" movie is not only "one of the year's best" and "impossible to forget," he adds, but it also "offers a fuller picture than any standard biographical drama ever could."
- But Kyle Smith disagrees. "Jackie does more than a disservice—bordering on an insult—to its subject" as it "imposes upon 1963 a 21st-century notion of how famous people should emote on cue," he writes at the New York Post. The ever-composed "Jackie Kennedy was a woman of her times, but since composure doesn’t win you Oscar nominations, Natalie Portman opts to play the part with a sort of emotional incontinence."
(Portman showed off her baby bump
at the film's screening.)