HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:72
I wasn’t alive during the famous Kennedy assassination, but I can remember watching videos and reading articles on how her stalwart poise and grace were one of the finest things that came out of that horrible event. Jackie Kennedy was just known as the First Lady back then, but after her interviews by the press and incredible poise after one of the most horrific home grown terror incidents of that time, she became a legend. “Jackie” was one of the most under rated and under publicized films of the Academy award winners, with Natalie Portman winning best actress for her portrayal of Jackie Kennedy, even though the film slipped through all of the cracks when it came to its theatrical debut. I was a bit puzzled by this fact after viewing, as the film is quite a fascinating biopic on the first lady’s days after her husband’s death. There are some flaws to the presentation, and it isn’t as emotionally stirring as some of the other winners, but it is a fine situation of an actress completely disappearing into her character.
We all know about the Kennedy assassination. It’s been told and retold a thousand times, with a thousand different conspiracy theories about Lee Harvey Oswald and his execution of JFK. It’s just one of those iconic pieces of American history that just keeps getting told and retold throughout entertainment history. “Jackie” doesn’t really try to ADD anything to the story, instead focusing in on the few short days after the event. The film opens up with Jackie (Natalie Portman) living outside of the white house and deigning to speak with a lone reporter (played by Billy Crudup) in an effort to have HER side of the story told. While the unnamed reporter tries to pull a “story” out of Jackie (Mrs. Kennedy is VERY adamant that this will be HER story, not some sensationalized piece) she unfolds a tale of her heartbreak and her love over the course of a few days.
Most of the story is told through multiple jumps through time. We start out with the shot that shook America and the blood-soaked ridge on the motorcade, only to jump around with pieces of interstitial footage from the actual filming of Jackie Kennedy doing the famous tele-tour of the White House, as well as several other pieces of archival footage. Each of these pieces and each of the differing time periods that are portrayed in the film go to showing us the emotional state of the First Lady. Following her through the initial shock and abject horror of the assassination, the betrayal and pain she deals with after watching her husband’s role being shuffled off onto Lyndon B. Johnson (John Carroll Lynch), and the struggle with coming to grips that she is about to be heading back to a “normal” life without her husband (as well as bringing up painful memories of having to bury stillborn children).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=93042[/img]“Jackie” is a well-done biopic about one of America’s most famous First Ladies, but it is packaged, advertised and sold completely on the back of Natalie Portman’s ability to absorb herself into the role of Jackie Kennedy. At first glance she doesn’t appear too much like Mrs. Kennedy, but you get past the physical dissimilarities fairly quickly as you listen and watch Portman’s mannerisms. It’s visibly spooky to watch her just completely vanish into the character and hear Jackie Kennedy’s famous drawl and hand motions replicated on screen. However, Portman goes above and beyond in her role, infusing elements of her own person into the character and makes it something more than just a base imitation of someone else. The character becomes alive and vibrant, and you actually start to feel (through the use of some very heavy color and time grading devices on the visuals and Portman’s acting) that you’re actually back in 1963.
While Portman is fantastic and Peter Skaarsgard is exceptional as Bobby Kennedy, some of the other background characters get the shaft a bit. It’s this lack of background character development that leaves you feeling that you just watched a very GOOD movie instead of a GREAT one. I can’t bash the movie very much at all besides a vague sense of feeling that there could have been something more. It could be because of the very matter of fact way that the film focuses on Jackie Kennedy’s emotional state, and her stalwart attitude of moving on, but the lack of emotional pull for the audience is just enough for me to wish for a little bit “MORE” if you know what I mean.
Rated R for brief strong violence and some language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=93050[/img]20th Century Fox has presented “Jackie” with a very unique looking transfer. First and foremost is the choice to shoot the film in 1.66:1 instead of one of the more common aspect ratios, but I have a sneaking suspicion it was so that the classic archival footage of the real life Jackie Kennedy (which is shown in its original academy ration of 1.33:1) would blend more seamlessly as the bars were already on the side of the screen, making the shift less drastic. Or I could be completely wrong and it was intentional so as to provide a more “old timey” feel to the image. The other was that “Jackie” was shot using 16mm film. A choice which makes for a very textured and rich look, but also one that is decidedly more rough and aggressive on said texturing than most other movies. Again, this is most likely utilized to give the image an “older” look. A look that fits in very well with the aggressive color grading that leans towards pastels and hot whites with a mix of light tan to the overall look of the film. Fine detail is still quite good, and can border on fantastic at times (look at Jackie’s famous pink outfit when she and John F. Kennedy get off the plane onto the tarmac before the famous violent shot goes down). Blacks are a bit murky as a result and shadow detail isn’t always the best, but most of the issues that I’m describing are more of a side effect of the shooting style rather than any fault of Fox’s encode.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=93058[/img]“Jackie” comes to Blu-ray with a rather nice sounding 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix. A mix that is heavily influenced by a string and piano heavy score by Mica Levi (who won an academy award for the music) and a front heavy use of dialog. Really the dialog and some surrounding effects in the mains make up a majority of the audio, but Mica Levi’s melodic score fills out the back of the stage a good bit, and the LFE does come out to play once in a while. The touchdown in the middle of the crowd when the Jackie and John get off the plan is filled with the hubbub of excited members of the press, which has the desired effect of increasing sound usage, but overall the surrounds are mainly used for the score and a few ambient noises that come and go throughout the movie.
• From Jackie to Camelot
• Theatrical Trailer
Natalie Portman as the choice to play Jackie Kennedy seemed like an odd one at first glance, especially since she really doesn’t resemble the first lady all THAT much physically, but Portman put forth the effort to transform her personality and voice into the famed first lady with surprisingly alacrity. Her performance is the single driving force behind the whole project, and really is probably one of the single best acting jobs the actress has ever pulled off. Despite being the most forgotten of the academy award winning films, “Jackie” is an engaging drama with a couple of fantastic performances to draw the viewer in. The very unique and texturally rich visual style along with the intense performance from Portman makes for a very intriguing film that had me really impressed despite the tough competition it went up against at the award shows. The Blu-ray is a bit odd in the picture department (intentionally so I might add), but the audio is what one would expect for a drama of this ilk. Definitely worth a watch if you’re into period piece dramas.
Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig
Directed by: Pablo Larrain
Written by: Noah Oppenheim
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Runtime: 100 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: March 7th, 2017
Buy Jackie On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Good Watch
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