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Natalie Portman plays Jackie Kennedy in a film that examines how she responded to the various demands of a grieving first lady during the week following the assassination of JFK. This is one of the most intriguing biopics I have seen. It is hard to describe. First and foremost, Natalie Portman has one of the most amazing performances ever. She portrays Mrs. Kennedy in her confusion about what happened and trying to ensure that her husband’s legacy would be remembered. As the Johnsons move into the White House, Jackie has to plan for the next stage of her life. Using frequent close-ups, the director really highlighted the skill that Portman brought to the role, and Portman’s fashion choices were spot-on. The director also made some interesting artistic choices. For example, the music is haunting and promotes a feeling of unsettledness that pervades the entire film; this enhances the portrayal of a woman who appears to be ready to fall apart at any minute but manages the strength to keep everything pulled together.  The use of black and white to portray archival footage alternating with the present time color created a sort of art-house film effect and also helped give it a documentary effect. The other performances in the film were also superb, including Peter Sarsgaard who plays Bobby Kennedy. Big thumbs up from me for a film that is mesmerizing and intensely personal. While I don’t know a lot about Jackie Kennedy, the film helped me to understand a lot more about what her world was like during those days.

About Gary Burkholder

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