Pablo Larrain‘s Jackie is a major stand-out in a long line of docudramas about the tragedy and travails of the Kennedy family. It’s the only one that can be truly called an art film — intimate, half-dreamlike, cerebral, not entirely “realistic” but at the same time a persuasive and fascinating portrait of what Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (Natalie Portman) went through between the lunch-hour murder of her husband in Dallas on 11.22.63 and his burial at Arlington National Cemetery on 11.25.63.
Some of Jackie is about grief and weeping (naturally) but mostly it’s about steel — holding it together, arranging the funeral, standing up, refusing to wilt. It’s almost all shot in close-ups, right in there, no blinking or downshifting.
And the music! Mica Levi‘s melancholy strings, not so much “melodic” as a kind of melodic wailing, filled the Winter Garden last night and it was like “whoa!” The strings and a couple of tracks from the original B’way cast album of Camelot comprise the entire musical scheme. Not even those haunting funeral drums are heard — a ballsy move when you think about it.
Larrain, the respected Chilean-born director of No, The Club and Neruda, makes Jackie his own, and particularly Portman’s. It’s the best thing NP has done since Black Swan, and it puts her right dead smack into the hallowed circle of Best Actress contenders now — Portman plus La La Land‘s Emma Stone plus (here’s hoping) Viola Davis in Fences along with Loving‘s Ruth Negga.