Saturday, 28 January 2017
The White Swan.
99 Minutes. Starring: Natalie Portman, Peter Sarsgaard, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Richard E. Grant & John Hurt. Director: Pablo Larrain.
Inauguration's of late have left us not sure what to do with our new First Lady like Michelle Obama with Melenia Trump's gift...let alone our new leader of the "free" world. So perhaps it's time for a little historic and cinematic relief as 'Black Swan' wing spreading actress Natalie Portman plays 'Jackie' Kennedy. Wife of JFK and arguably the most famous and foremost iconic First Lady in the halls of White House history, next to the one who has just left us and the one who could have been President this year. Now as people are fearing The Donald may even trump Bush, the Kennedy's on the other hand were celebrated like the Obama's and Clinton administration. Sure they made maddening mistakes, but back in their time they represented a hope alongside the activist likes of Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X that we only saw in entertainers of conscience like Muhammed Ali and Bob Dylan after all that was ended with a bullet. 'Jackie' takes up the story of Mrs. Kennedy after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in his motercade only two years and some two months into his campaign. And this indie picture of a woman of great independence is a sombre affair. A delicate but unfliching portrait and perfect portrayal of aching beauty. Just like 'Carol' at last years Academy, this years 'Best Actress' Oscar should already come with a name on it.
Because that's just how good Natalie is as 'Jackie'. The moment she lights Jacqueline's first cigarette on 'No' director Pablo Larrain's first English language movie and slow burner you just know she has the owness to play Onassis...even of Mrs. Kennedy didn't smoke. Lighting a fire inside, Portman simmers aswell as shimmers on the outside as this political figure of great beauty, but also great substance. It's subtle but incredible work that is the hallmark of real acting as this genuine 'V For Vendetta' star puts the 'J' in 'Jackie' in this classic character study. Showing both this womans worth and work and taking us through her hard to swallow, but easy to sympathise grief, from her wardrobes to her medicine cabinet. A sheer compelling Natalie nurses Jackie captivatingly with her black widow haunting behind Mica Levi of 'Under The Skin's' same vein crawling score. From showing us round the White House in that infamous tour television special (that is captured so well in black and white by actor and director that the first time you see it you think it's the real thing like the 'Bobby' flashbacks) to packing up her things with personal effect on leaving her stately home, Natalie embodies everything. The gait, the husky voice and hallowed demeanour. All with a presence of poise. She bares the soul of a woman troubled by the harrowing death of her husband and the torture of the press...and those around her who act the same. But she does it all his a great class. The only thing more elegant should be the gold statue that Portman will end up holding in honor of a woman worth more than an award too. Even if 'La La Land's Emma Stone and the underrated Meryl Streep is in the same category. Natalie Portman was sensational taking us physically through the growth of the 'Black Swan'. But speaking to us emotionally in 'Jackie' she's sublime.
Still in this political piece the cabinet is full on Larrain's lavish detail and that's thank to some great hands in the West Wing playing this house of falling cards like aces. The always accented and almost in everything Peter Sarsgaard is brilliant as Bobby Kennedy. From the delivery to the demeanour. The man who most recently made the most of little weight of screen time in Johnny Depp's 'Black Mass' and then made good on the bad guy in the epic remake of the classic 'The Magnificent Seven' deserves a picture of his own. Even as a man who has been portrayed or at least the subject of many films and series' from 'Bobby' to Greg Kinnear's 'The Kennedy's'. 'Greenberg' actress Greta Gerwig is also great as Jackie's aide Nancy. Standing right by her side and showing us this is her year to rival all the other up and comers after 'Maggies Plan' and 'Mistress America'. Time for Captain Marvel, Brie Larson to make room. Don't confuse the two...no matter how great last years best actress was. This years one is interviewed by 'Watchman's' Doctor Manhattan Billy Crudup who brings journalistic integrity to his piece and a narrative thread that lumbers through the periods present day and past tense scenes all cumilating in that moment of cruel infamy where J.F.K. was taken from Jackie captured with nauseating realness and raw emotion from Natalie. The British are also coming to America in the form of 'Withnail and I's' legendary Richard E. Grant. Such an English gentelmen he was probably born in the halls of Oxford and Cambridge, E. Grant is so good at being American we can't wait to see him convince us at being a Marvel villain in the most anticipated blockbuster of the new year in Hugh Jackman's last claw at X-Men's Wolverine in 'Logan'. But it's another great British national treasure that shows real heart as the late, great John Hurt is perfect as an ever present priest. The 'Elephant Man', 'Midnight Express' and 'Harry Potter' legend who we learnt sadly passed away the morning of writing this is dearly missed. But legacy leaving incredible here in what sadly will now remain one of his last roles even talking God and the great beyond. But what a role...and what an actor. This is decicated to John and the late, great 'Jackie' who inspires us all to this day. A real lady. First and foremost. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See This If You Liked: 'Black Swan', 'Carol', 'Bobby'.