JACKIE (film) is muddled and awkward

JACKIE - 2016
Director: Pablo Larrain.
Cast: Natalie Portman / Peter Sarsgaard / Greta Gerwig / John Hurt
Content Rating: R for strong violence and language (That's IMDB's rating. I personally think it could've been PG.)  
Source: Rented.

Following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband's historic legacy.

About a year ago I read a captivating book: Jackie After Jack: Portrait of the Lady. Ever since then I've been spellbound by Jackie's story, and so when I saw that they were making a movie starring Natalie Portman, I was thrilled. And when Portman was nominated for an Oscar, I was even more excited.
I expected a lot from this movie. But it was a mixed blessing.

The film is basically a select biography focusing on the events from JFK's assassination to his funeral and how Jackie was affected by them. It's also got a mesmerising, dreamlike quality to it - I half expected Jackie to wake up at the end and say it was all an illusion.

The shaky camera work and intensely intimate angles offer a very tender look at Jackie. They're trying for intimate, and yes, the film does feel rather personal. They seem determined to get up close with Jackie and expose her emotions and reactions following the assassination.
The use of colour is stunning. The scenography is intelligent, and the costumes are elegant and striking. The music is atmospheric and reminiscent of the time as well, and instills a gorgeous nostalgic parallel to Jackie's journey.

The pacing is messy, and the story's muddled. I also don't think the start of the movie captured the story in the right place, nor did I like any of the scenes between Jackie and the journalist. They felt awkward and forced, and I don't think they worked at all.
And is it just me, or did those journalist scenes outside look green-screened? Both actors looked cut out of the picture and removed. It was badly done.

Jackie's story is gut-wrenching. Her ordeal was horrific, and the film brought tears to my eyes. Natalie Portman looks so fragile and lonely in the role, and I ached to give her a hug.
But I wanted more. I wanted more of Jackie's back story, more of her history......just more about her. I feel as if the film skims the surface and gives us an haunting - moving - but shallow view of a woman whose story is truly magnificent and dynamic. Or perhaps the movie just focuses on the wrong aspects of her life. I got a delicate and painful view of Camelot, but no real substance. The film gives us deep visual intimacy, but little in the way of information.

The acting isn't extraordinary. Natalie Portman's "Jackie voice" does not work, and she comes across silly and childish at times. Her acting's solid but not amazing, and she looks too breakable and naïve to be a convincing Jackie. I felt for her character, but I didn't love her in the role.
Portman's also awkward. Especially at the beginning, I couldn't help but cringe at the way her lines were delivered. She just looks uncomfortable in Jackie's skin, and some scenes are excruciatingly awkward.
Peter Sarsgaard looks nothing like Bobby Kennedy, but his acting's decent. His chemistry with Natalie is beautiful and genuine, and that repeatedly holds the movie together.

Jackie's story is heartbreaking, powerful, and even inspiring, but I don't think the film managed to capture that. The acting and scenes are too awkward, and the script doesn't dig deep enough into Jackie's story.
But visually, it's ethereal.


  1. Oh, kinda disappointing! I have this one on our Netflix queue. I like Natalie Portman, but she can be really hit or miss.

  2. I was looking forward to watching this on Netflix! Thanks for letting me know not to prioritize it.

    1. Oh dear, sorry!
      Thanks for the comment :)

  3. Oh no! I can't deal with shaky camera work. It makes me sick after just a couple of seconds. I'll have to skip watching this one. Thanks for the heads up!

    1. It wasn't bad, just a bit shaky. I didn't find it distracting or amateurish though; it fitted the tone.

  4. This is such a good review! It's too bad that this movie was a disappointment :-(

  5. Gah, I'd been looking forward to this but I'm not seeing great reviews so far. Might wait until it comes on tv for free! And I HATE the shaky footage rubbish that these films do!!!

    1. Yeah pity!!
      It wasn't bad! It wasn't amateurish or distracting, actually - it fitted the tone :)

  6. Oh, how sad that this movie was so disappointing, Amy...especially considering the subject matter, and its historical/emotional importance. I had been looking forward to watching this, too, but now, I'm not so sure.... I do still want to read the book this movie is based on, though.

    Thanks for the detailed, objective, and beautifully-written review! Thanks as well for mentioning the book, which I had not heard of before!! HUGS!!!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

    1. SO TRUE!
      The movie isn't actually based on that book, but the book is amazing :)

      Awww thank you Maria!! HUGS!! <3 <3 And I'd definitely recommend reading that book :) :)