At First Glance: “Jackie”

A biographical film may seem like a good idea at first, but then the finished product comes out and it can easily fall anywhere but intended. Some are so lackluster it makes you wonder why various creatives even bothered? Or, what were they thinking? It’s difficult to figure out if a biographical film is really going to be all that good or memorable, and critics sometimes don’t help. The only thing to do is see it and judge it for yourself.

The upcoming Fox Searchlight Pictures film “Jackie”, looks like one powerful and emotionally intense film that won’t easily be forgotten.

This biographical drama stars Natalie Portman (“A Tale of Love and Darkness”, “Knight of Cups”).

The film is directed by Pablo Larrain (upcoming “Neruda”, “The Club”) and written by Noah Oppenheim (“Allegiant”, “The Maze Runner”).

The film is expected to be released on Dec. 2, 2016.
Okay, so that’s really just the hope that I wrote about up top. I don’t think it sets the expectation level too high, but it at least allows me to be excited for something about this film that doesn’t really have anything to do with Portman being in the film. Not that that’s a bad thing. Some films take a while to build up excitement, but if done well, it’ll be worth it. I’m certainly more intrigued than I was before, however, one potentially big problem still lingers.

There’s so much to see. So much footage is in this teaser, but not enough, of course, that all I want is more. So many moments. We see from Portman’s perspective, which makes sense as this film deals with just that, and some are iconic, like the real life person being portrayed. I find, given how little I know about this woman and many of the historical events, that it all looks fascinating. Top notch too. Getting into this film won’t be a problem at all and I’m even more thankful for the approach that Oppenheim took to tell this story.

He’s focusing it a lot. This story, in part, follows Jackie after the assassination of her husband, John F. Kennedy, which so few films seem to do. In prepping this, I’ve found only conflicting reports on what else this film focuses on. Originally I thought it was just a few days before and the days after Kennedy’s assassination, but now I’m not so sure. Having this focus, even a tiny bit, is still going to pay off. It keeps so much of the focus on character and thus you’ll get a deep human story. An exploration of who this woman really was is at the center and I’m thinking this gamble will pay off! If not, then I’ll just be disappointed.

What I won’t be disappointed in, if the film works out like most critics are claiming, is Oppenheim’s writing abilities. Prior to this he’s only been a co-writer on two of the worst film’s in the last five years, hell! I think it’s even less than that, maybe three. If you skipped over the fun facts on Oppenheim, here they are again! He’s previously helped write “Allegiant” and “The Maze Runner”, which as I discovered involved two other writers. If a film needs three writers, there’s something seriously wrong with it. Most films, I find, don’t benefit from three or more writers, and sometimes don’t with just two. Because of the high acclaim this film’s already achieving, I’ll approach it cautiously optimistic. At least the film will have that positive going for it.

One positive it won’t have, is the voice Portman’s using. Right now it’s just somewhat annoying. Sadly, as this is a teaser, there’s not really much to determine if this will be the case the whole film, or if it’s just because there’s so little to judge her vocal work and accent on. Other than this teaser, I’ve seen one clip, and even in that clip something just rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe I’ll get lost in Portman’s (and everybody else’s) performance, but for now, I’m hesitant to get excited about her vocal choice. Nuanced performances are great and all, but when one facet of the character irks you, it’s not going to mean that much in the end.

Speaking of performances, just for a moment more, I find Portman’s really could be a thing of beauty. I’m already convinced that this film and her work will be one emotionally intense performance and will work within this film. So many scenes spear to require a lot from Portman, and it’s through this and the writing, that we’ll get a good look at the woman being portrayed. I may for once not actually be tired of seeing film’s about her or her family. Helping too, is the fact that Portman’s got a pretty good resemblance working in her favor.

Biographical film’s come out every year, some more interesting than others, and some audiences definitely needed. Getting a read on certain films is tough. There are so many variables to consider and then there’s the general fact that not all biographical films, like general films, are created equal. Some are just destined to be a successful well made film, while others only dream of that and the acclaim which usually follows.


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