**1/2 stars (out of four)
Director Pablo Larrain’s film Jackie is getting a lot of awards season attention. It’s an interesting film, one that tries to shirk standard biopic conventions. But it doesn’t fully work.
The film focuses on first lady Jackie Kennedy (Natalie Portman) in the immediate aftermath of her husband’s assassination. The movie frequently jumps backwards and forwards in time. Portman gives a strong performance and the film has a number of thoughtful, striking details about all the little ways Jackie’s life must have been hell in the aftermath of JFK’s death.
But the film falters by frequently cutting back to conversations Jackie has with a journalist (Billy Crudup) and a priest (John Hurt, a welcome presence as always even though his role doesn’t exactly help the film). The problem with these scenes is that they feature Portman telling us exactly what Jackie is thinking and feeling. It ends up undercutting the performance. Portman’s work is fully capable of showing the audience these feelings and emotions, but these dialogue-driven scenes consistently tell the audience what’s going on, as if Larrain didn’t trust them to figure it out from themselves.
For serious movie buffs, Jackie is still probably worth seeing. Even it when falters, it’s still at least trying for something different.