Rated R

99 Minutes

Released December 2nd

The filmmakers who created the movie Jackie took an unusual path in constructing the narrative for a difficult subject to cover in the time constraints of a feature film. The framework is built around an interview with Jackie that takes place a short time after JFK’s funeral, at the Kennedy compound on Martha’s Vineyard in Cape Cod. The interviewer is played with great skill by the excellent Billy Crudup, who portrays a quiet and introverted personality able to disarm and draw out honest responses from a woman who is not only in the process of grieving but also instinctively protective of her private life.

The sound track by Mica Levi, a British cellist, is striking. The opening minor chords are heavy and foreboding. Only later in the film do you realize that they seem to be a dissonant corruption of the opening chords in the overture to Camelot, a hugely popular Broadway musical of that time that became the unofficial name for the incomparable home that Jackie and JFK created in the White House.

As a child I was deeply affected by watching these people on television as that horrific episode of our history played out. I found it hard to believe Natalie Portman as “Jackie” even though she displayed with astonishing skill Jackie’s huge emotional arc during this tumultuous period. Portman communicated the angst and frustration that ran beneath Jackie’s poise and the unfathomable grief following the assassination. However the Jackie I remember was much more relaxed and at ease, never stiff and brittle, and had an inner strength that made her seem comfortable under any situation. The film does not quite communicate the sheer enjoyment that Jackie had in showing off the carefully collected artifacts of US History in the White House. You can Google the original White House Tour that she gave. She walked and talked with an innate grace, and she was a compendium of information. Without carrying notes, she discussed in detail the history and names behind every object she had collected for the residence. Jackie was the first to establish the White House as truly a house of the people.

This is a very important movie to see. What this film does well is convey the huge impact that Jacqueline Kennedy had on JFK’s legacy as she lifted his funeral to the national stage. That event became part of a national mourning and strengthened our sense of identity as a nation. The tragedy changed the way that we think about our country, reminding us at once that we are not too great to be vulnerable, yet we are great enough to overcome individual madness and dictatorial whims. It opens the book on long-hidden pieces of American history. The value of this movie is that it will provoke its audience to find out more about a strong, highly intelligent and fascinating American woman who gracefully set a style all her own.

Kathryn Whitney Boole has spent most of her life in the entertainment industry, which is the backdrop for remarkable adventures with extraordinary people. She is a Talent Manager with Studio Talent Group in Santa Monica. kboole@gmail.com. For previously published reviews see https://kwboole.wordpress.com