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Featured Blu-ray and DVD Review: Jackie

March 13th, 2017

Jackie - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack
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Jackie is Oscar-bait, there’s no denying that. It has all of the hallmarks of an Oscar-bait release. It is based on historical events, it was released in the heart of Awards Season, and it features a powerhouse performance. The film did earn three Oscar Nominations, but wasn’t able to convert any of those into wins. Is the film busted Oscar-bait? Or did it deserve to win at least one Oscar?

The Movie

There’s not a huge amount of plot to deal with here, as the film starts with Jackie Kennedy being interviewed by a journalist. There is a contentious beginning to the interview, as Jackie Kennedy is rather guarded. We quickly see that’s for a good reason. (During her tour of the White House, she’s cut off by the interviewer, which is bewildering, as it shows a complete lack of respect.) This interview is used as a framing device, as we flashback to important moments in her public life, starting with the tour of the White House she gave in 1962 and of course the assassination of her husband a year later and the aftermath of this event. This includes the immediate aftermath, as well as the funeral and transition to a much more private life. The movie bounces between the various time lines and Jackie interacts with plenty of people, but there’s no cohesive plot in the traditional sense.

My initial reaction to Jackie was, “What the hell is Natalie Portman doing?! Why does she sound like that!?” It was then I realized that I never heard Jackie Kennedy talk. She was a very private woman and I was born a decade after she left public life. I paused the movie and went looking for video of the former first lady and I have to say, Natalie Portman did an amazing job capturing the way Jackie Kennedy talked and acted. It is still jarring, to say the least.

That said, once you get over the initial shock, it is a powerhouse performance by Natalie Portman. Had she not already won an Oscar for Black Swan, she could have been a favorite to win this year. It’s an emotionally heart-wrenching film with Jackie Kennedy trying to be brave and do what’s best for her kids and trying to honor her husband. However, she’s gone from the first lady, someone who at least garners some respect, to someone who is essentially invisible. She can’t even plan her husband’s funeral, as the “serious men” who surround her say they know better. This part of the movie is very compelling. Additionally, the production design and costumes in this movie are impeccable and this helps ground the movie. I’m a little surprised the movie didn’t get an Oscar nomination for the former, as well as the latter.

On the other hand... The Kennedy family is considered practically as royalty in the United States. I’m Canadian and we have actual royalty and I’m not even that interested in them. I really liked The Queen Mother and I really hope Queen Elezabeth II outlives her mother. However, I would rather watch an interview with her corgis than watch an interview with any of the human members of the royal family. I still found Jackie to be a compelling movie with an emotional impact, but I don’t think I got as much out of is as someone who grew up admiring the Kennedys would.

The Extras

The only extra on the DVD / Blu-ray is a 22-minute long making of featurette. That’s not bad for a limited release, but I was hoping for more.

The Verdict

Jackie features an Award-worthy performance by Natalie Portman and it recreates the time period impeccably. If you have a emotional connection to the events and people depicted in the movie, then this is a must have. If you don’t have that emotional connection, but still want to see in incredible performance, then the DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack is worth picking up.

Filed under: Video Review, Jackie, Billy Crudup, Natalie Portman