Verdict: A remarkable account behind the creation of Camelot
22nd November 1963 was a sad day when the 35th President of United States John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated. With about 425 days left in his four-year term, it was a sad end to the youngest individual to be elected as the President. One week after the assassination, an interview with the widow was featured in the Life magazine. There have been a lot of movies about the assassination and many more where it has been alluded to. Although not a lot has been spoken about Jacqueline Kennedy who was perhaps the closest to the President during the incident. She was the symbol of poise and strength and dealt with her grief and planned a funeral for her husband, which was comparable to Abraham Lincoln's grand one.
An unnamed journalist (Billy Crudup) is summoned by Jacqueline Kennedy (Natalie Portman) to her home in Massachusetts where she wants to narrate her version of what actually happened. We are taken back in time to the day of the incident when the Vice President is sworn in as the President and they all make their way back to DC. She meets Robert Kennedy (Peter Sarsgaard) in DC as she chooses to face the media head-on instead of making a quiet exit. Thus begins the tale of a woman who has not only lost her husband but also her home and who has taken up the responsibility to make sure that the Kennedys are not just remembered as "beautiful people".
There are multiple stories happening simultaneously. We see the present-day Jackie in charge and spilling her heart to the journalist who is not going to publish everything. We see Jackie who has just lost her husband will be soon losing a lot more and has to make the best of the limited time that is given to her to wield her power. We see a Jackie who has taken an initiative to give the people a glimpse into the White House through the medium of television. We see a Jackie who is pouring her heart to a priest (John Hurt) and him being the voice of reason. Natalie Portman has delivered her best performance, perhaps, as she played all the shades of Jackie Kennedy to perfection. The grief of the loss of her husband is quickly replaced with a mask as the Vice President is sworn in. The mask stays as she exits the Air Force One and only drops to be replaced by another one as she breaks the news to her children. Her pain and the grief, which are expressed when she is alone, is bound to make stones melt. The story may have been fictionalized but there is a great deal of authenticity to the costumes and the time period.
The Life magazine article included a quote by the widow "Don't let it be forgotten that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot." and the movie goes on to prove how she made sure that the people didn't forget. Peter Sarsgaard, as Robert Kennedy, has done an excellent job as he tries to balance between Jackie's demands with realistic possibilities. John Hurt, who will be seen for the last time on the screen, delivers life lessons in his gravelly voice indict bitter-sweet memories.
The cinematographer Stéphane Fontaine has done an excellent job when it comes to the colors on the screen and makes it look so realistic that if we didn't know any better, we would have presumed that it was archived footage.
Why You Should Watch This Movie:
This is not a biopic on Jacqueline's life but an account of the moments merely days after she loses her husband, her home and her power. Natalie Portman does an excellent job of bringing this character to life on screen. This tale of the incident is unlike any ever told.