After her husband, President John F. Kennedy (Caspar Phillipson) was assassinated, Jackie (Natalie Portman) sits down with a journalist (Billy Crudup) to tell her story. As the interview progresses, Jackie corners the journalist into asking the question he really wants to ask, but has been avoiding. What was it like being in the car when the President was shot?
Jackie recalls life in the White House. She tells of giving the first televised tour of “the people’s house.” She talks about getting ready the morning before her husband is shot. She relives the fateful moment that her world was turned upside down.
Jackie was present when Lyndon Johnson (John Carroll Lynch) was sworn in as the new president, still wearing the same blood soaked dress. She was unable to grieve in that moment, as she processed what was happening before her. Her mind raced as she tried to grasp everything that was going on, looking for details about her husband’s murder while already thinking about funeral arrangements.
When she returns to Washington, Bobby Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard) tries to help her through what is a difficult time for both of them. Jackie wants to give John a funeral befitting a president and preserve his legacy while struggling with how to tell her young children and how to cope herself.
Jackie is based on an interview Jacqueline Kennedy did with Time reporter Theodore White recounting the days following her husband’s assassination. While there have been countless stories told of Kennedy’s death, seeing the tragedy from the viewpoint of his widow gives a unique perspective.
Natalie Portman is exceptional as Jackie. She conveys the poise and grace of the former First Lady while showing the grief she was experiencing during the ordeal. She is definitely deserving of an Oscar nomination. Caspar Phillipson was a perfect choice for John F. Kennedy. Even though he is only briefly in the film, he performs well and looks just like the former President. Peter Sarsgaard, as Bobby Kennedy doesn’t disappoint, either.
Seeing the assassination of the President from a rarely seen vantage point is an interesting look into what happened after the event. Rather than focusing on the moment, most of the film is spent showing Jackie’s reaction. Splicing actual footage with scenes with the actors is well done and at no point becomes gratuitous. The feel of the film comes across as authentic from the 1960s.
Jackie shows a woman known for her strength and elegance who is now vulnerable. Many remember the moment it happened but don’t stop to think about how it impacted his family. This film lets us know what they were going through. It is an interesting film worth a watch.