This film covers the time interval between right before President Kennedy’s assassination until shortly after his funeral. It starts with a journalist (Billy Crudup) interviewing Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) about her tenure as first lady, and her thoughts and feelings about the assassination. Her responses to his questions are answered in flash-backs, most of which are not especially interesting.
I don’t remember Jackie well, but Portman looks a lot like her and probably has accurately portrayed Jackie’s speech and mannerisms. Her performance – at least a good one and possibly even better – is, however, not nearly enough to save this film.
The film is very heavy-handed. The score is schmaltzy and grating, making chalk on a blackboard sound like Mozart. Do we really need two minutes of a Portman close-up showing Jackie wiping President Kennedy’s blood off her face?
To be fair, there were a few good scenes, primarily Jackie talking to a priest (John Hurt) about this tragedy and other earlier tragedies in her life, which raised some provocative questions. Some of Jackie’s interactions with the journalist were also well-written and entertaining.
The film highlights Jackie’s dignity, intelligence, and grace while she was the First Lady, especially for the difficult and important decisions she made regarding Kennedy’s funeral arrangements, but the film doesn’t do its subject justice.