Jackie | Natalie Portman is compelling in this close-up portrait of JFK’s grieving widow

I want them to see what they have done to Jack.

Jackie Natalie Portman Peter Sarsgaard

Natalie Portman conveys a compelling mix of traumatised frailty and steely resolve in this close-up portrait of one of the 20th century’s most iconic women, Jackie Kennedy.

As Pablo Larraín’s film ricochets back and forth between events in the hours and days following her husband, John F Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas in November 1963, we see Jackie anaesthetised by shock and reeling with grief; but we also see her resilience as she stage-manages the pageantry of her husband’s funeral and imposes her will on an interview with a reporter (Billy Crudup) from Life magazine, already striving to mould the JFK myth.

Portman’s performance isn’t perfect. In places, she is too mannered, and her version of Jackie’s breathy, upper-crust Boston Brahmin accent is both overly studied and slightly off. But her portrayal of shell-shocked sorrow is searing in its intensity.

Mica Levi’s astonishing score, mixing keening dissonance and elegiac melody, adds to the film’s power, while Peter Sarsgaard (a high-handed Bobby Kennedy), Greta Gerwig (as compassionate social secretary Nancy Tuckerman) and John Hurt (a shrewd Roman Catholic priest) provide strong supporting turns.

Certificate 15. Runtime 99 mins. Director Pablo Larraín

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