Oscar buzz has been surrounding Jackie because it is one of the few films that has brought heart and reality to a historical blemish in American History: JFK’s assassination. One of the most tumultuous episodes in U.S. narrative is spoken of like an “out of body” experience, where its very real players, Jackie Bouvier Kennedy and Bobby Kennedy, are seen as historical figures of poise and perseverance rather than a wife and brother wondering how their, and Jack’s, appetites for power clouded their sense of reality. In Pablo Larrain’s Jackie, we see the closest depiction of Jacqueline Kennedy as a human being while she struggles to match her queenly role in the country’s “Camelot” imagination with her pain as a widow.
For my fellow historians, the JFK assassination is a mind-boggling tragedy that i0s shrouded with questions and images that do not seem real and to Pablo Larrain, one of those images is Jackie, played radiantly by Natalie Portman. The already Oscar-winner is bound to get another nod, maybe even a win, for this role. Is she excellent? YES! Yet, it is the story itself that elevates her already “acting chops”. Again, rare in history do people see Jackie O as a person and not an object. Even in her life she was just JFK’s charming wife. Yet, Larrain intriguingly portrays her as a strong, defiant woman with her own, at times, questionable attraction to power. Jackie might be the first film ever to show both the emotions and ego of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, which are two things that are not necessarily associated with her. While Peter Sarsgaard rivets by showing the stirring rage of the mild-mannered, meek Bobby Kennedy, whose guilt and visions of being a “dynamic duo” with his big brother confound him. John F Kennedy was their world and mutual source for their ambitions and, in an instant, they are left to mourn man and the dreams they had through him.