A lot of fuss was made of “Jackie” when the press and stills initially
announced its limited theatrical release. Time passed. The din of voices
and the Oscar buzz faded.
The historical drama is perhaps worthy of a passing grade, but the overall
portrayal was not only diminutive of the first family, it denigrated JFK’s
place in history. It is notable for the fact that it reveals the inside
details of historical scenes known to most only from the outside. It seems
we are given a window into history. The Lyndon Johnson family not only
could care less, but acts oddly defensive, territorial even aggressive.
This gives it weight where it otherwise falters on the edge of obscurity.
Lyndon Johnson and his policies are being scrutinized more now that time
has passed and members of his cabinet have, too, leaving America free to
publicly analyze his legacy without the threat of a lawsuit.
The lead, Jackie, is portrayed as self obsessed, slightly bitchy, but
never nuanced and carefree. She is more obsessed with building herself up
as an icon rather than preserving the accomplishments of her husband’s
Office. And what did JFK accomplish? According to “Jackie”, very little.
The music was weird at times and this version of Camelot seems a little
like a charade meant to cover up the neurosis brought on by a philandering
husband, now deceased.
Her talks with a Catholic Priest at the end are inter-spliced with the
grand finale showing how the rest of the Kennedys dealt with their fallen
leader in the final hours and days in a most sensational manner. This meeting
should satisfy many Catholics in the way of preventing their outright
oversight (snubbing) of the film. The film sort of pulls itself together
at the end so as not to leave the viewer feeling tricked. But if you’re not
a history buff or a Kennedy junkie you likely would have stopped watching
long before then.
The only actor that really shines here is Gretta Gerwig and her role is
minimal as Jackie’s assistant. Portman does her very best as “Jackie”, but
it’s hard to understand the complexities, constraints, and liberations of a
religion you have never lived. Catholicism has a tendency to be portrayed
as overrated or under involved socially. It’s relevance and value is
constantly both undermined and distorted.
Ultimately this is where “Jackie” misses the mark. Endurance, creativity and flexibility under intense pressure and scrutiny made the Kennedy’s Camelot more than mythical, ascending the world above and beyond into the realm of the miraculous. If we defend the inherent truths and read the cues left by a widow mourning not only the loss of a husband, but the cynical world he died in overcoming, we will be honoring that one word that “echoed repeatedly” in her mind “History.”
“Jackie,” missed the higher truths that resonate. Our production, The Sandcastles, Of Poetry and Power, depicts the Kennedy White House in a way that empowers Kennedy’s Camelot and will seal it’s legacy into generations.
Spoken often in rhymes, legends secure their value among children because stories of such epic proportion are often also told as poems, passing from parents to children from one generation to the next, set in stone, never forgotten.
2017 (c) Bobbi Iervolino
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