Jackie

Director: Pablo Larrain (2017) BBFC cert: 15

The grave of US president Kennedy is raked over once again in this well observed portrait of his widow, Jackie.

Natalie Portman brilliantly fleshes out the  First Lady’s steely and shrewd ambition, presenting her as a chain smoking, perfectly poised and prickly coquette.

In the fear and chaos in the aftermath of JFK’s assassination in November 1963, everyone around her is jockeying for power.

Having lost her husband, house, status and income, Jackie must act quickly to secure her husbands – and her own – legacy.

She conducts an one to one interview with a journalist, played with an out of his depth curiosity by Billy Crudup.

Jackie claims the meeting is her attempt to put the record straight, but it’s really to ensure her version of the truth is the one which will last.

The script is scathing about the importance of stage craft, celebrity and media control in sustaining public power. The shooting is astutely and sensitively  handled, we feel Jackie’s horror even as she becomes the most famous bystander in history.

A mournful, unsettling study, it’s as cold, calculating, complex and compelling as its subject.

@ChrisHunneysett

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