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dir Pablo Larrain
scr Noah Oppenheim
prd Juan de Dios Larrain, Darren Aronofsky, Scott Franklin, Ari Handel, Mickey Liddell
with Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Caspar Phillipson, John Hurt, John Carroll Lynch, Beth Grant, Richard E Grant, Max Casella, Julie Judd, Sunnie Pelant
release US 2.Dec.16
Wife, mother, politician, star: Portman
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
Chilean filmmaker Pablo Larrain takes a clear-eyed approach to this fictionalised account of the days following JFK's assassination. Anchored by a pungent, textured performance by Natalie Portman, the film digs deep into the complexities of grief, with glancing blows to celebrity culture and political expediency. Never slick or sentimental, its layers of resonance are hard to shake.
As she settles into her Hyannis Port home, recently widowed Jackie Kennedy (Portman) talks with a journalist (Crudup) about her experience in the White House, the killing of her husband (Phillipson) right next to her and the days afterward. As she arranges the funeral, are her concerns based on what the American people want? Her two children? What her philandering husband thought about? Or what she needs as a grieving widow facing a life she never imagined? Her main confidants are her brother-in-law Bobby (Sarsgaard), her assistant Nancy (Gerwig) and a straight-talking priest (Hurt).
Larrain refuses to give the film the usual sleek-biopic sheen, instead opting for grainy, well-lit images with strategic splashes of strong colour. Direction and camerawork are intuitive and telling, revealing currents of meaning without ever being obvious about it. This means that the moods sneak up on us in every scene. And archival footage mixes in cleverly with recreated sequences, including a multi-faceted dramatic reconstruction of Jackie's now iconic TV tour of the White House.
Portman plays the role as a woman badly shaken by the death of her husband, but unwilling to sacrifice the larger-than-life image she created with him. It's a wrenching role that's never played for sympathy; she's calculating and wounded, thoughtful and demanding. The superb supporting cast float around her as people who know they don't have a chance of shifting her direction on anything. Each person registers as a fully formed person in their own right, even as they offer insight into this formidable yet vulnerable woman.
Impeccably edited, the film circles around to revisit key moments from various angles, telling the story in a way that both punctures the legend and reinforces it. In this sense, Larrain and writer Oppenheim make brilliant use of Lerner & Loewe's Camelot, capturing the tricky blend of this family's very public life, a collision of show business, politics and glamour. And yet this was also a real woman in a difficult marriage trying to make sure no one forgot what she was trying to do with her life. Astonishing.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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