There's nothing groundbreaking about using the camera to express the point of view of a character, and using movement and cutting to express the mind state of that character can hardly be considered novel. Occasionally an auteur furthers this idea into a more all-encompassing subjective style, where every filmmaking element pulls the viewer deeper into the psyche of a character. This more rare movie-jazz sometimes works, as it did in Don Cheadle's staccato Miles Ahead, or in Adam McKay's rapid fire The Big Short, or with amazing fluidity in Inarritu's Birdman. Sometimes however, it fails spectacularly, as it does is in Pablo Larrain's tedious Jackie. In depicting one of America's most devastating events and reopening one of its least healed wounds, one would think it nearly impossible to not elicit sympathy, but this is exactly where Larrain flops. While Natalie Portman's portrayal of the dethroned queen of Camelot is convincingly in shock, it never rises to the level of genuine empathy, even in what could've been heartbreaking moments with her children. Instead, Jacquline is forever at arm's length - distant, cold, and calculating. Peter Sarsgaard is disastrously cast as Bobby Kennedy, and he plays the role without a drop of compassion. The film is bookended with an absurdly static and unnecessary interview between Jackie and a journalist, played by Billy Crudup, during which neither could be more opaque. One gets the feeling that within Noah Oppenheim's script, there may have been an opportunity to make a movie full of heart, but instead Larrain obsessively chooses style over substance, technique over humanity. Jump cuts here, repetition there make me care, he did not.
Jackie is a portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady, then Jacqueline Kennedy. Jackie places us in her world during the days immediately following her husband's assassination. Known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, here we see a portrait of the First Lady as she fights to establish her husband's legacy and the world of "Camelot" that she created and loved so well.