After months waiting, Jackie opened in Spain the last Friday, and finally I had the chance to see it. After all this time, and all the good reviews, I was afraid that the film might not fulfilled my expectations… nothing further of reality.
It´s a GREAT film. It´s probably the more accessible and conventional Larrain´s film to date, but still it´s one of the most interesting biopics that have been made in recent years on an American figure… precisely because there is not a typical biopic.
Watching the film, I understand perfectly why it had so weak commercial success in the US: this is not a detailed story of what happened those sad days on November, it´s a deep study of a character for the four days more stressful and critical of her life. Yes, I say well the word “character” because, as Larraín said in one of the many interviews for the promotion of the film, this is a “fiction told from the intimacy of the private”. We’ll never know for sure what Jackie really was, but the film shows us a person full of nuances, contradictory, selfish, self-centered, but also intelligent, determined and emotional, which helped build, almost without intending, the legend of her husband.
There are also another reason why the movie is not conventional: who goes to a movie theater to see this waiting learn the ins and outs of all that happened these critical days for American history, will feel probably disappointed. the film part of the premise that everyone knows the story, and yes, gives very accurate brushstrokes here and there of what happened behind the scenes … but this is about Jackie and her vital experience during these days, and the film introduces you fully in her personal experience in those hard times.
And here is where Natalie comes into scene: simply she’s superb. the best perfomance of her career, certainly. She cries, laughs, despairs, she confesses in front of the camera. An amalgam of emotions that she shows perfectly in every scene. All of them filmed a few inches of her face by Larrain, always attentive to each gesture and each word.
… and the words also have its importance here. Noah Oppenheim´s screenplaay highlights also for well in the movie. I have read out there reviews criticizing the portrait of the journalist performed by Billy Crudup, for being too grim and little “realistic” regarding Theodore H. White, the real one who interviewed Jackie in Hyannis Port. They are the same ones who are outraged because a character did not say this or that. Hitchcock called it the tyranny of verisimilitude in his famous interview with Truffaut. They aren´t understand that a movie is a work of fiction, and it attends always to dramatic parameters. To watch a story-depth of the facts there are already a lot of great books and documentaries. This film responds to an emotional narrative, told through the image and the word, and it is specifically breaks cleverly the conventional and linear structure for the benefit of the emotional discovery of the character, and the director is not a coward at the time of intermingle scenes to get it (the last fifteen minutes are paradigmatic in that sense).
And all of this is because of Pablo Larrain. He is aware of having a story a thousand times told, and gives you a completely new twist by using these elements: perfomances, dialogues and situations are building a very certain frame of mind. A person broken by a traumatic event, bound by the circumstances to deal with pain staff for the loss of a loved one (fact that has rarely been treated as well on-screen: the scene between the graves is excellent in that sense), while to be driven to pay tribute to the work of a President whose work was inconclusive. I think he comes out quite successful of the challenge …
The movie has a slow cadence, intimate, supported all the time by strangeness provided by the excellent Mica Levi´s soundtrack. This movie is full of looks, transmitting perfectly the thoughts of the character. but if there is a scene that touches the heart, that’s the final conversation with the priest interpreted by the great John hurt. Filmed in a pure Malick style, a moment that reaches deepest, and the real emotional climax of the film.
Ultimately an excellent movie that certainly will be disdained by a part of the public as “slow”, “boring” and “don’t have anything” …. nothing further of reality. is a bit sad that much of film critics and audience ask for risk in this type of biopics … and when it is achieved, they complain about it. something that I think it’s going to go with this movie that, like Neruda, the previous film by larraín, shows a different look, staff and to the dessert risky in these times where most of the films are measured and controlled.