The Woman Behind “Jackie”

Coming this December, the new Jackie Kennedy film will dive into an intimate discovery of our beloved first lady while delivering an unseen edge to the Oscar-winning Natalie Portman. From Matilda to Black Swan, the actress has never settled for a particular type of role and manifests untapped potential every time she revisits the screen.

Notwithstanding the aforementioned, Portman is selective of her characters since the prerequisite to rendering interest is being interested. There necessitates an extraordinary charm within the fabricated or in Jackie’s case, real persona before Portman feels comfortable giving it life. In possession of a prestigious filter, she can only convince the audience after convincing herself— her most difficult spectator. For this reason, the actress prioritized a degree in psychology at Harvard over immediate return to spotlight following the grand success of Leon: The Professional (1994).

Growing up in a perfectly loving family, Portman had to make sense of the micro abyss in Mathilda’s mind because unlike herself, the latter suffered a ghetto childhood coupled with drug dealing parents and awful siblings. Mathilda had nothing to hope and everything to lose while Natalie had everything to hope and nothing to lose. In unusual calmness, Natalie walked past lingering murderers who just finished massacring her entire family. As she waited for Leon to open the door, she knew that his indifference would be her death sentence.

Portman’s determination to execute complex characters soared in the 2010 thriller Black Swan, which ensued unforeseen difficulty where learning ballet from scratch was just the tip of the iceberg. Haunted by the daunting double of her living nightmare, Nina Sayers struggled to emulate the mysterious, sensual traits of Black Swan though her natural innocence made her a perfect fit for White Swan. Blurred adrift imagination and reality, Nina endured costly hallucinations that simultaneously brought out her repressed veracity and ended her life in unintended self-abuse. Desire to play the lead progressed into a battle against herself as she summoned the toxic demon of insanity. As for Portman, the real feat resided in her erringly accurate portrayal of Nina’s convoluted emotions towards deadly ecstasy, where internal conflict is visualized into perceivable violence and sexuality.

Taking on Jackie, Portman challenges the unchallenged. As she lives the assassination of JFK through the eyes of Jacqueline Kennedy, the actress must garner another point of view previously undisclosed. The first step in recreating Jackie is to master her distinctive mid-atlantic accent from eight hours worth of primary tapes. Next, she needs to solve Jackie’s emotional labyrinthine under the restraint of constant surveillance, due to which the iconic first lady never let out fully in public. Private grief must be packaged under exterior peace in the midst of a chaotic aftermath. According to reporter Marco Cerritos, “everything we need to know is shown on her face and not old through words”. As the film juxtaposes a happy Jackie from earlier times with the now traumatized wife, Portman ably transitions from glamour to destruction in a biopic entirely lifted by her version of Jackie. Debuting during the Oscar season, a certain Black Swan is taking wing to a new destination.

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Sabrina He

Sabrina studies International Relations and French at NYU. Moving from Montreal to Beijing to Vancouver to Manhattan, she is a trilingual Chinese French Canadian culturally confused 90% of the time. A keen observer, she strives to shed light on the "diamonds in the dust" hidden inside her every day journaling. Having interned at various law firms, she now seeks to illuminate her creative outlet through Monologue Blogger.