Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The First "Jackie" Trailer is a Beautiful, Somber Look Into the First Lady's Camelot

Natalie Portman in Jackie
There are countless films about American Presidents. It is in telling their stories that cinema is able to understand the country's rich history, especially as conflicts blur between politics and personal desires. With limited exceptions, the First Ladies have often been written out of the picture or at best reduced to a supporting role. It is one of the reasons that director Pablo Larrain's Jackie joins this Oscar season with a vibrant and promising chance. With Natalie Portman starring as former First Lady Jacqueline "Jackie" Kennedy, the film has been receiving acclaim at almost every major film festival and looks to see Portman receiving her first Oscar nomination since 2010's Black Swan. From the looks of the first trailer, it looks like more than a sure thing.

Next to La La Land and Moonlight, Jackie has become one of the most buzzed about films of the Fall season. With many considering its chances of reinventing the biopic, it seems like a timely film for a different reason. Beyond potentially being a great movie, the idea of focusing on a woman directly involved with politics seems novel, if unfortunately lacking colleagues. Considering that Hillary Clinton is the current Democratic party nominee, the implicit parallels feel present, and the idea of Mrs. Kennedy stepping out of the shadows of her more renowned husband, President John F. Kennedy, feels like its own form of empowerment. While Jackie is likely to be about her relationship to the president, one can only imagine the other ways that it relates to the political climate of 2016.

I have had high hopes since first hearing the great reviews. Portman has done great work in the past, and I argue that she more than deserved her Best Actress statue for Black Swan. Even then, it's been awhile since she's done a knockout performance worthy of buzz. I can only hope that Larrain, previously nominated for Best Foreign Film for No, will do a great job in elevating this beyond conventional material. Considering that we've already seen one film this year related to Kennedy's assassination (All the Way) and Rob Reiner has another on the way (LBJ), this is quite the year to revel in 1960's politics. Whatever the case may be, Jackie's brief reputation has already gotten it more clout.

Check out the trailer below:

Looks really good, especially for a teaser. Here's the plot description according to IMDb:
Following the assassination of her husband, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy fights through grief and trauma to regain her faith, console her children, and define her husband's historic legacy.
If nothing else, it looks to be an original take on the traditional biopic. I don't know much about Mrs. Kennedy, so I can only presume what's to follow. Maybe it will cover similar ground to JFK in that it covers the personal anguish that President Kennedy's death brought. Beyond that, I am curious to see what the film will focus on, and if the striking elegance on display here will carry over into the film's overall tone. If nothing else, it more than confirms the chances that Portman has at winning a second Oscar. Considering that a year ago I thought she wouldn't come close to another shot, this is a heartwarming surprise. With the lack of First Lady films out there (if stretching, Lincoln maybe counts as a pseudo-biopic on Mary Todd Lincoln), this will definitely help Jackie stand out in a year where I more than expect my Oscar-winning films to be politically charged. If nothing else, it lives up to the real Mrs. Kennedy by having a flawless visual sensibility.

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