A person who goes to great lengths to create a myth is probably not going to be very thrilled when the veil on that myth is lifted. Not even when it’s speculation.
The lifting of the veil itself can be either true or false … accurate or inaccurate … that ultimately doesn’t matter. It’s the fact that someone lifted the veil that’s the issue.
In short, most myth makers don’t like to be exposed.
But Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis died quite some time ago, so no one has to worry about her anger or possible retribution.
Given that, let’s talk about Pablo Larrain’s film “Jackie,” shall we?
The Chilean director does a masterful job of looking at what might have been Jackie Kennedy’s experience during the days of and immediately following the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy.
It’s a flashback, fast-forward treatment of Mrs. Kennedy and how she crafted the whole “Camelot” image of their time in the White House.
Natalie Portman is absolutely brilliant in the role of Jackie Kennedy. She nails all of the nuances, emotions and conflicts of what Mrs. Kennedy likely experienced during that time. Of course, we don’t know for certain because Jackie Kennedy didn’t write an autobiography and she’s the ultimate creator - and editor - of the Camelot thing.
But back to Portman. Without question, this is an absolute Oscar-worthy performance. In fact, Portman’s performance is an interpretation of Kennedy’s stiff and studied performance as First Lady. It’s inspired, human and heroic.
May the force be with any future actress who aspires to play Jackie Kennedy. Why?
Because not only has Portman totally raised the bar on this role, she has literally shut it down. Her performance soars high above the mere fashion and beauty work of past Jackie Kennedy actresses who simply don’t have the chops to pull off this kind of portrayal.
One final thing on Portman's performance. In this film, as in her Oscar-winning turn in "Black Swan," there are pivotal scenes or places in the film where Portman does something extraordinary. For actors, these extraordinary moments in film determine whether or not they'll win an Oscar (purely based on their performance anyway). Watch for Portman's truly extraordinary moment (among many) in "Jackie." It will hit you in the face. You will NOT miss it.
I also love the way screenwriter Noah Oppenheim explores the issues of life and death, love and betrayal and our overall search for meaning. There’s plenty of juicy dialogue and skillful layering here aided greatly by Composer Mica Levi's mesmerizing score. The music itself is almost a character in the film.
Also, big shout outs to Peter Sarsgaard who delivers a strong performance as Bobbie Kennedy, Greta Gerwig who is charming as Jackie Kennedy’s secretary Nancy Tuckerman, John Hurt who is especially profound as the priest, Caspar Phillipson who is great in what amount to a few JFK cameos and Billy Crudup who is careful and tactful as the journalist.
Finally … you know … we’re living during a time when everyone is so image-conscious. We’re spending way too much time crafting and honing our exteriors and almost no time at all working on our inner cores.
If you work on improving your character, your image and legacy will take care of themselves. Despite your adversity, everyone will know the truth.
The vast majority of journalists out there merely want to get to the truth of things. It’s not our job to help you craft “your image” or create a myth for you. That’s the job of your publicist. It’s our job to crack through the nonsense.
Many people these days don’t like journalists because they want journalists to be “on their side.” That’s NOT the job of any good journalist … although granted, these days, that’s getting harder and harder to believe. A good journalist tells a truthful, objective, fair and balanced story … come what may.
In this film, Jackie knows the truth all too well, but she was so busy crafting the image of Camelot along with keeping the nation emotionally afloat. This film itself sort of plays the role of journalist by lifting the veil on Jackie and getting closer to what was probably the truth about her during those days.
When you reveal the messy, sloppy, dirty, muddy, bloody, trouble-filled truth about your life, believe it or not, you actually put yourself on the fast track to martyrdom.
Ironic isn’t it? I mean, who on this earth can’t relate to a trouble-plagued life? Nobody gets out of this unscathed.
With that said … Jackie Kennedy herself might not love this film, but “Jackie” does a much larger service to Jackie Kennedy - and JFK - than her myth-making ever could.