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Film / Jackie

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"I want them to see what they have done to Jack."

"I never wanted fame. I just became a Kennedy."
Jackie Kennedy

Jackie is a 2016 film directed by Pablo Larraín and produced by Darren Aronofsky.

It stars Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy, who's coping with the aftermath of her husband John F. Kennedy's 1963 assassination.

The film also features Peter Sarsgaard, Billy Crudup, Greta Gerwig and John Hurt, in his last film performance before his passing in 2017.

Jackie includes examples of the following tropes:

  • Anachronic Order: The film hops around between several timelines: the events directly following Kennedy's murder, a tour of the White House a few years earlier, an interview with a reporter about a week later, and a conversation with a priest sometime after that.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: In her darkest state of mind, Jackie's conversation with the Priest reveals the latter to be one, giving her a really profound consideration of why the entire assassination had to happen to her:
    The Priest: There comes a time in man's search for meaning when one realises that there are no answers. And when you come to that horrible, unavoidable realization, you accept it or you kill yourself. Or you simply stop searching... I have lived a blessed life. And yet every night, when I climb into bed, turn off the lights, and stare in to the dark, I wonder... Is this all there is?
    Jackie Kennedy: You wonder?
    The Priest: Every soul on this planet does. But then, when morning comes, we all wake up and make a pot of coffee.
    Jackie Kennedy: Why do we bother?
    The Priest: Because we do. You did this morning, you will again tomorrow. But God, in his infinite wisdom, has made sure it is just enough for us.
  • Based on a True Story: The events depicted in the film (Kennedy's murder, his funeral, the tour of the White House, the interview with a journalist) happened in real life.
  • Blood-Spattered Innocents: As in real life, Jackie gets covered with her husband's blood when he's shot. She wipes the blood off her face immediately, but keeps the same clothes on all day as a statement.
  • Boom, Headshot!: One of the most famous Real Life examples is reproduced in graphic detail, as we see it from Jackie's very close proximity. She and the reporter even Lampshade it early on.
  • Canon Foreigner: The Priest is the only character in the film who isn't a historical figure.
  • Cigarette of Anxiety: Jackie smokes several. She also drinks vodka and takes barbiturates — in a particularly grim scene, lots of them, while she puts on different outfits and listens to a sprightly tune from Camelot.
  • Composite Character: The Journalist is based on three reporters that interviewed Jackie Kennedy in real life: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Theodore H. White and William Manchester.
  • Death Seeker: Jackie admits to her priest that she's been wanting to die ever since her husband's death, and that her decision to walk openly in the funeral cortege was motivated partly by the hope that someone would shoot her too.
  • The Determinator: Jackie, concerning the funeral, Jack's burial place, and the way she wants her husband to be remembered. Her situation could be considered Break the Cutie (because she was young and shy, she was called "poor kid" by some Secret Service guys and other officials) but she's closer to an Iron Woobie.
    Ladybird Johnson: Can I send somebody to help you change? Before we land. All those cameras. People will be watching.
    Jackie: There were Wanted posters everywhere. For Jack. With Jack's face on them. Let them see what they've done.
  • Due to the Dead: Much of the film covers the planning for J.F.K.'s funeral. Jackie wants to imitate Abraham Lincoln's lengthy procession as closely as possible, though this creates some security concerns.
    • The conversation with Bobby and the ambulance driver indicate she's worried about a We Hardly Knew Ye effect as Jack had been president only 3 years. In the interview, she mentions reporter Merriman Smithnote  now talking about Jack like he was some dusty old historical artifact. She copies Lincoln's funeral because his accomplishments were more memorable than the two other presidents assassinated in office.
  • Framing Device: An interview with a reporter in Hyannis Port functions as this, repeatedly flashing back to scenes as they discuss them. However, the conversation with the priest, which starts about halfway through the film, turns out to have occurred later.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Lee Harvey Oswald is the closest thing the film has to an actual villain since he was responsible for the assassination of John F. Kennedy in real life.
  • Heroic BSoD: An excellent depiction of the real First Lady's one of these. Secret Service Agent Clint Hill's also.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: There's a very tender scene between Jackie and White House social secretary Nancy Tuckerman. In Real Life, Nancy and Jackie had been school friends since they were little girls. Nancy did stay with Jackie and was her personal secretary for the rest of Jackie's life.
  • Historical Domain Character: Virtually everyone of note in the film including Jackie herself. The only exceptions are The Journalist and The Priest.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After Jackie's flinty "let them see what they've done" to Ladybird Johnson, Kenny O'Donnellnote  in the background drinks his whiskey with this kind of expression.
  • In Mysterious Ways: Discussed. Jackie tells the priest that "God is cruel" because he let her husband be slaughtered in front of her not long after she lost two of her babies. The priest tells her that God may be working through her in ways she doesn't yet understand.
  • Lady in Red: Jackie is sometimes seen in a red outfit (including the film's poster).
  • The Lost Lenore: John Kennedy's murder happens at the start of the film, which is about how Jackie coped with grief.
  • Mononymous Biopic Title: Jackie, of course.
  • No Name Given:
    • "The Journalist" isn't named in the film although he is based on Theodore H. White, Arthur M. Schlesinger, and William Manchester, three reporters that did interview Jackie Kennedy.
    • Likewise, "The Priest" is left nameless.
  • One-Word Title
  • Pink Means Feminine: Jackie wears a pink dress, both in the film and in real life.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: John F. Kennedy's murder happens at the very start of the film, and almost everything else that happens is the fallout.
  • Posthumous Character: John F. Kennedy, who's almost The Ghost — he only appears briefly in a few flashbacks.
  • Precision F-Strike: Very, very softly spoken by Bobby, as Johnson's aide Jack Valenti voices safety concern about Johnson having to walk in the funeral procession:
    Valenti: I just can't have my President walking.
    Bobby Kennedy: Your President?
    Valenti: My President.
    Bobby Kennedy: Well, regardless of what happens, my brother's going to be carried in a box.
    Valenti: And I am sorry, sir.
    Bobby Kennedy: [considers for a moment, then:] Fuck off.
  • Real Footage Re-creation: The film recreates the assassination based on footage such as the Zapruder Film.
  • Shower of Angst: An especially painful example, as it shows Jackie weeping while the water washes off her husband's blood.
  • Tough Leader Façade: While she's not actually the sovereign, there's a similar dynamic at work. Jackie is very conscious of her family's image, and is constantly aware that she's putting on a show even as she's working through her grief.
  • Widow's Weeds: After the death of her husband, Jackie wears black clothes. During the funeral, she wears traditional widow's weeds with a black veil.