Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Natalie Portman Channels Jackie Kennedy at the Venice Film Festival

Natalie Portman as Jackie
(Venice, Italy) I was eight-years-old when John Kennedy was shot, and I remember November 22, 1963 very well. My third grade class had gone on a trip to Bear Mountain State Park on the Hudson River, so it was already a special day. I got in trouble for leaving the group and wandering off to see a spectacular view of the mountains... the beautiful scene had hypnotized me and pulled me away from the rest of my class. Then, the magic was broken by the harsh scolding of my teacher, Mrs. Osher. I already thought she was mean and didn't like her, but the interruption of the beautiful moment by her jarring voice hurt my innocent feelings, and brought tears to my eyes.

That is why I was surprised when the bus arrived back at our school in New Jersey, and Mrs. Osher burst into tears. I never imagined she would be the type of person to cry in public. I didn't realize at the moment, what, exactly, had caused her outburst. When I got home, the television was on and frantic, frightening images careened into the living room in black and white. The grownups who were in charge of my world had flipped it upside down. Through the eyes of a child, I understood that something was horribly wrong.

Natalie Portman as Jackie
The thing I remember most about John Kennedy is that he wanted American children to be healthy, and we had special fitness programs at school to make us fit. He wanted us to be smart. And we were going to put a man on the Moon.

We also had air raid drills where we would march into the hall, scrunch on our knees into a ball, and cover our heads with our hands, which has been proven to be very effective protection against the Atom bomb:-) To put myself to sleep at night, I imagined who I would invite to be inside my bomb shelter -- I had two: one underneath the ground in my backyard, and another that you could enter by driving your car, sort of like a drive-in movie bomb shelter. Both were stocked with plenty of canned goods.


During all this madness (which would turn out to be the Cuban Missile Crisis) Jackie Kennedy was effortlessly elegant, wearing white gloves, de Givenchy and Chanel, accenting it all with a pillbox hat and pearls. My mother would critique Jackie's hair and fashion as if she knew her personally. It was like the Kennedys were part of the family.

Natalie Portman in Venice
So, I was deeply affected by the movie, Jackie, starring Natalie Portman, and directed by Pablo Larraìn, who is from Chile, and, at age 40, was not born at the time. At the press conference, Larraìn said he was not American, and not attached to the history.

Jackie Kennedy was a Leo, the sign of royalty, born one day after (and a couple decades before) me, and I always liked her style. (Larraìn, too, is a Leo, so maybe he injected a little lion energy into the film.) Jackie, the movie, impressed me with just how much of a lioness Jackie was -- the distinct hand she had in redecorating the White House, creating Camelot and orchestrating the iconic funeral of John F. Kennedy, a funeral that lifted up the souls of the United States of America.

Jackie behaved like royalty, and while the US has no kings and queens, it would be nice if we could try to embrace some noble qualities once again -- or at least, put on a good show.

Natalie Portman & Pablo Larraìn in Venice

From the Variety review:  


"Eschewing standard biopic form at every turn, this brilliantly constructed, diamond-hard character study observes as the exhausted, conflicted Jackie attempts to disentangle her own perspective, her own legacy and, perhaps hardest of all, her own grief from a tragedy shared by millions. Provocative and entirely unsentimental in the speculative voice given to its subject’s most private thoughts on marriage, faith and self-image, and galvanized by Natalie Portman’s complex, meticulously shaded work in the lead, “Jackie” may alienate viewers expecting a more conventionally sympathetic slab of filmed history. But in his first English-language project, Chilean director Larraín’s status as the most daring and prodigious political filmmaker of his generation remains undimmed."

From the Hollywood Reporter review:


"Extraordinary in its piercing intimacy and lacerating in its sorrow, Jackie is a remarkably raw portrait of an iconic American First Lady, reeling in the wake of tragedy while at the same time summoning the defiant fortitude needed to make her husband's death meaningful, and to ensure her own survival as something more than a fashionably dressed footnote. Powered by an astonishing performance from a never-better Natalie Portman in the title role, this unconventional bio-drama also marks a boldly assured English-language debut for Pablo Larrain, the gifted Chilean director behind such films as No, The Club and Neruda."

Ciao from the Venice Film Festival,
Cat Bauer
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

1 comment:

  1. I was eight-years-old when John Kennedy was shot, and I remember November 22, 1963 very well. My third grade class had gone on a trip to Bear Mountain State Park on the Hudson River, so it was already a special day. I got in trouble for leaving the group and wandering off to see a spectacular view of the mountains... the beautiful scene had hypnotized me and pulled me away from the rest of my class.

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