“Nothing’s ever mine. Not to keep, anyway,” Jacqueline Kennedy (Natalie Portman) remarks near the end of Jackie, but it’s not for lack of trying. Jackie depicts the iconic First Lady as someone constantly trying to keep her life stitched together in the face of pressure the likes of which most people can’t even imagine. There’s a lot that’s laudable about Larraín’s picture, but the element I’d like to focus on is Portman’s masterful performance in the title role.
Natalie Portman, I believe, is a perennially underrated actor, despite having won an Academy Award and having another nomination. She, like Keanu Reeves, has a reputation for looking like she’s not really doing anything special. But that’s really what makes her so good: she does great work without making it look like a breathless Herculean undertaking. Even in terrible films like Your Highness and No Strings Attached, she embodies her characters fully, prioritizing physicality and interiority over physical transformations. She adopts method acting techniques, but minus the arrogant showboating of many actors that have come to be associated with the label.