Words on the Internet

these are my stream of consciousness reviews and thoughts. i don't proofread before publishing so forgive the editing or lack thereof 

JACKIE (2016)

Jackie - Natalie Portman

Image is everything.

An interesting look at Jackie’s manipulation of the post-death events that led to her not only establishing her husband’s legacy but also her own. I loved the theme and messages of the movie but somehow it didn’t resonate with me.

Maybe too many close ups of Natalie Portman’s sad eyes for too long. Maybe it was the stilted accent of Jackie or the plastered smile. While all accurate (I assume) I couldn’t help but be constantly reminded of the construction of the film itself.

Given the themes of ‘image is everything’ and acting in one’s own self-interest, maybe the audience’s self awareness was intended but I have trouble thinking that was the intent.

There are some brilliant moments, no doubt. Jackie and Bobby exchange some caustic words — out of personal grief and brandished at each other but backed in truth. Jackie also has some nice moments with a priest where we get some of her more honest, if still robotic, moments.

Thematically, the idea of self-promotion-as-preservation rang loud and clear. JFK’s ideas around his presidency being more inspiring than the action he took in office, and Jackie’s interest in making a large dramatic procession, the new television camera’s and presentation of the whitehouse. It’s all brilliantly woven. Jackie herself as the first great “marketer” of ideas to a mass market. Her central question: Will anyone remember my husband and I? She decides yes, they will. I will make them. It’s an interesting choice and one that feels both noble and empty.

Timely theme too — with Trump as a classic example of marketing and message of substance and content. Own the screen time and own the history. Jackie makes an interesting comment about history need no longer be written, because now we have television.

The story and the themes work — if a bit heavy handed at times.

I think where the movie falls flat is the acting and dialogue. The acting maybe as a result of the dialogue — often, and especially towards the end (when Jackie and the priest are talking before burying her kids), the dialogue begins to feel overtly philosophical and like a spoon with which to feed us the themes. In its defense, death and burials are the times when the ‘meaning of life’ conversations tend to emerge, yet the philosophizing back and forth felt read-off-the-page and lacked a reality that the moment called for.

Structurally bouncing between the newspaper interview, the tour of the whitehouse, and the period immediately around the assassination all reinforced each other and provided enough respite. The interview felt a bit dry at times and could have been a bit tighter.

Whiffs of greatness but a looser interpretation of her persona may have lead to a more dynamic performance. I wanted her angrier, a bit less controlled. Her isolation was portrayed well and I think the extreme close ups reinforced that. Even when she was surrounded by people she’s alone.

Stilted and stiff performances. Sexy but isolated. Image over content. Manipulative and smart but self serving. Maybe the movie echoed Jackie as a person and that’s the point?