Jackie: An Alternative View or Lackluster to View?

Welcome Matthew Mendisana!
Coastal Breeze News is happy to announce the addition of film enthusiast and critic, columnist Matthew Mendisana. Matthew will bring readers his insightful movie reviews in a regular column, “Reel Reviews.”

REEL REVIEWS

By Matthew Mendisana

The assassination of President John F. Kennedy is a story that has been told countless times. Dozens of books and films have been made retelling the events. Some stories have simply focused on the actual shooting, while a near limitless supply of stories exist about the various conspiracy theories centered around that day. No matter how far they may stray from the original source, one thing always remains the same. It was in 1963 that a great man was assassinated. A man who was a president, a father, and a husband.

Of all the films to come out about this terrible event, this film is based on an alternative perspective. The film simply titled, “Jackie,” is a biography about one person who was there since the beginning, and even after the end. The First Lady, Jackie Kennedy.

The film stars Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy, the soon to be ex-first lady and grieving widow. The main focus of the film is not about the lead up to the shooting. In fact, the assassination happens within the first five minutes of the film. No, the bulk of the movie centers around Jackie Kennedy as she and her family mourn the loss of her husband, as she struggles to give him a farewell she feels he deserves. However, planning a funeral for a president is no small feat. Especially when planning one during the age of the Cold War. On an interesting side note, it also co-stars the late and great John Hurt as the pastor. While his scenes are brief, he gives a decent performance for what he’s given. Unfortunately, it’s easy to see the actor’s health is declining.

If you’re hoping for a groundbreaking story that will leave you breathless and in tears, then you best leave that box of tissues where it is, because you won’t need them. Without spoiling the story, though I’m sure most of us are aware of how it ends, I pretty much just summed the film up. Jackie Kennedy loses her husband, tries to cope with the loss, while at the same time find the proper way to mourn him. If you’re a history buff hoping for a story that will transport you back to the sixties, and maybe even learn something new, you’re going to be disappointed.

Now to the film’s credit, it doesn’t get sidetracked into the Oswald conspiracy. They do mention him, and the film even shows stock footage from his arrest and eventual death on camera, but that’s as far as they take it. The film focuses on Jackie Kennedy, and sticks with her. While Natalie Portman gives a wonderful performance, I could see why some would find it lackluster. Because the film never gives her a chance to go into any other range of emotion except for distraught, apathetic, and occasionally angry. Throughout the entire film, I was waiting for the moment where our main lead would have her breakdown, or her big moment of weakness that would leave me upset and reaching for the tissues. Alas, the box I brought with me went unused that day. However, despite my criticism, I believe this is where the filmmakers were trying to remain true to the original source.

I applaud the film for attempting to give an alternative view on the terrible event that shook a nation. To my knowledge, this is the first film to focus on John Kennedy’s wife. I’m surprised it took 54 years to actually get here. Unfortunately, I’m afraid having a fresh view will not be enough to make this film stand with the other more notable Kennedy films out there. The film is rated R for brief strong violence and language, making this a film for adults only. It’s with a heavy heart that I must give Jackie a 6.5 out of 10. Not terrible, but it was fair to expect more.

Marco Island resident and avid moviegoer, Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a bachelor’s degree in science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. In his four years at Lynn, Matthew managed to achieve Magna Cum Laude status, earn three publications in the Lynn University magazine, make a short documentary featured in the university’s Film Festival, and created a radio PSA that was later broadcasted overseas.


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