The Films of Pablo Larraín
Jackie (February 21/17)
Directed by Pablo Larraín, Jackie follows Natalie Portman's Jackie Kennedy as she attempts to cope with the brutal murder of her husband, John F. Kennedy (Caspar Phillipson) - with the impressionistic narrative detailing Jackie's exploits both before and after the infamous assassination. Director Larraín, working from a script by Noah Oppenheim, delivers a frequently mesmerizing drama that benefits greatly from Portman's striking performance, to be sure, with the movie's compulsively watchable vibe perpetuated by a raft of better-than-average elements - including Mica Levi's hypnotic score and Stéphane Fontaine's gritty yet cinematic cinematography. And although Larraín's far-from-typical approach to the familiar material is impressive, Jackie's perpetual focus on the protagonist ensures that the movie, which essentially plays like a low-key character study, ultimately comes off as a searing portrait of intense grief. It's interesting stuff that's handled exceptionally well by folks both behind and in front of the camera, with, in terms of the latter, Portman's engrossing turn as a well-known figure matched by a strong supporting cast that includes Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, and John Hurt. The end result is a sporadically uneven yet primarily captivating endeavor that impressively doesn't overstay its welcome - the 100 minute running time is just about perfect - and it's not a stretch to label the picture a grand English-language entrance for a filmmaker who's been knocking it out of the park in Chile for years now.