Such concerns are, fortunately, dispensed with almost immediately. Larraín deftly plays with formats and film stock, in a manner reminiscent of his 2012 effort No, to approach the story of Jackie Kennedy in 'print the legend' mode. With the framing device of an interview in the wake of the assassination, the director (working efficiently with screenwriter Noah Oppenheim) manages to explore one of his favourite themes – the relationship between fact and fiction – in a new context.
The film is recognisably American in a “clever yet awards-friendly” kind of way, but it also has a distinct foreign quality, and not only because Paris is standing in for the US. Specifically, one wonders if an American director would have been quite as bold in presenting a portrait that, albeit far from iconoclastic, is decidedly unflattering in places when it comes to one of the most beloved Presidents in U.S. history (and that’s without mentioning the surprisingly frank visuals chosen for the assassination sequence).
Of course, this nuanced character study would fall apart without the right actress to embody the former First Lady, and while the entire cast is laudable (Billy Crudup, in particular, turns in a fine performance as the journalist interviewing Jackie), there is little doubt that all the attention, not just awards-wise, will be hijacked by Natalie Portman, who delivers her best work in years. Expertly melding both sides of her on-screen persona (innocent charm coupled with a maturity beyond her years), the actress is an unassumingly commanding presence as a complex woman whose role in history may never be perfectly defined.
The most unlikely pairing of filmmaker and star has generated one of the year’s most thrilling, thought-provoking pictures. If this is an indication of how Larraín’s career could expand beyond his native Chile, we can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.
|Jackie film review
|Various Locations | MAP
|Leicester Square (underground)
20 Jan 17 – 20 Mar 17, Times vary
|£determined by cinema
|Click here for more