The narrative that Natalie Portman has to somehow re-prove herself as an acting force is a strange one. Basically, there’s talk that Jackie (which just had its Toronto International Film Festival debut this week) is her “comeback” of sorts after winning the Academy Award for Best Actress way back for 2010’s Black Swan. (That was sarcasm. It wasn’t that long ago.)
And then I looked at her movies since 2010 and, welllllllll, it’s not the greatest. That list includes two Thor movies (the problem with those is they didn’t give her much to do); the underrated but barely seen Your Highness; starring opposite Ashton Kutcher in No Strings Attached; and the ill-begotten Jane Got a Gun, which had so many production problems I can’t even begin to list them here and I would for sure read a book about that movie. Natalie Portman doesn’t need a comeback, she just needs a good role in a good movie. That problem has been solved with Jackie.
In Pablo Larrain’s Jackie, Natalie Portman so embodies the role of Jackie Kennedy that there were times I found myself thinking, What’s Jackie Kennedy doing hanging around a contemporary actor from 2016? I could have used a specific co-star in that last sentence, but it would sound like I’m being disparaging to anyone I mentioned. That’s not my point. My point is Portman is just that good. (It’s uncanny at times how much Portman resembles Jackie Kennedy. Portman has a distinct smile and it’s only then when I would think, Oh, yes, that really is Natalie Portman.) I don’t dabble too much into Oscar predictions, but Portman is a lock for a nomination. The only question was if Jackie would be released in 2016. Now that Fox Searchlight has purchased it, that question has been answered by giving it a December release date.
Jackie begins one week after the assassination of President Kennedy. Jackie Kennedy is meeting with a reporter, Theodore H. White (Billy Crudup), to tell her story and the film is told in flashbacks that jump around President Kennedy’s short term in office. We watch Jackie Kennedy give a televised tour of the White House, we then see her being rushed to the hospital with her dead husband in her lap. Jackie doesn’t shy away from the events of November 22, 1963. Instead, it shows us a dramatic version of those events quite unlike anything we’ve seen before – namely, from her perspective.