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Oscarbait Biopic #5874

Every winter a serious biopic comes out featuring a show-stopping performance by a talented actor or actress hoping to nab Oscar gold. Out today is one such film called Jackie with Natalie Portman already having buzz of an oscar repeat in her portrayal of Jackie Kennedy. Is her performance awards worthy and more importantly, is Jackie as a film good?

In a similar structure to my all-time favorite film (500) Days of Summer, Jackie is not told chronologically, but rather in a series of memories shared randomly that reveal more and more of the woman behind the image. These memories are recounted to a journalist (played by the always reliable Billy Crudup) enquiring for a story after the death of her husband JFK. Jackie recalls all kind of memories of her time during the White House to being forced to pack up all her belongings after the assassination.

At the beginning of the film, Natalie Portman doesn't quite fit as seamlessly into the role as one would expect, as the narrative framing scenes where she recounts the story to Crudup's character seem to be the weakest. You can see her just trying to get the role just right and it doesn't feel effortless. But once the audience gets further into her memories it seems the more Portman got lost in the role and thus the more fascinating the film, as well as her performance becomes. Some scenes are gut-wrenching and incredibly raw, and on on the whole she does a pretty admirable job. Aside from Portman, the acting all around is strong and another performance worth talking about here is Peter Sarsgaard who plays Bobby Kennedy. He's always a welcome presence and does a solid job here. Also among the film's strengths are the haunting score and the fabulous costume and production design. Natalie Portman, as well as everyone else in the film perfectly fits the 60's aesthetic.

Jackie is definitely a movie to be seen more for the performances than a plot you'll desire to watch over and over. Certainly the plot and the depictions of famous scenes in history are incredibly well done, but it's more of the type of movie to be admired than loved and embraced. That said, I much preferred the way this biopic was handled as compared to say The Theory of Everything where they didn't take a clear side of whose story was being told and played it safe. Here we know that everything we're seeing is coming out of Jackie's lens which makes the story far more interesting. and she as a figure much stronger. Jackie might not be one of my favorites to come out this year or a movie I will want to rewatch again and again, but is a must see for the performances that will likely be nominated in a couple months. RATING: 8/10

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