The Best Films of the Decade: #15. Jackie (2016)

| December 27, 2019
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In just 8 Days the decade will come to a close and so for movie lovers like me it is an opportunity to look over the decade of movies that are left behind. Over the next few weeks I am going to countdown the best films of the past 10 years from #40 to #1. My choices are personal choices swayed by nothing but the love I have for this medium. These are all great movies. These films all achieved something great. All reached for something special. They are the best of the decade . . .

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It is safe to say that by this point every angle, sideline, opinion and alt-history alternative that could possibly be offered to the tragedy of the Kennedy assassination has been trotted out for public consumption.  What’s left?  Approaching Jackie, no one would blame you if you went in thinking that it will be nothing less than safe, award-worthy, audience-tested historical cushioning that recreates the events with no meat and no insight.

However, if you approach Pablo Larraine’s Jackie with this in mind, you’re in for a surprise.  Most are unfamiliar with Larraine’s approach; he’s a filmmaker who doesn’t cradle the audience, rather his films are cold, spare and dive deep into private truths, public lies while at the same time asking questions that are difficult and challenging.

The greatness of Jackie is that Larraine climbs inside the mind of one of the 20th century’s most famous and admired women, not as a mournful hero or public icon but as a single individual dealing with the most horrifying set of circumstances that any human being could ever be forced to deal with – and having to do it in the eyes of the world!

The film takes us back through that horrifying weekend in November of 1963 with an uncompromising approach.  Larraine doesn’t soak us in bloody details but rather tries to deal with Jackie’s emotional turmoil during a few days when she is forced to deal with her husband’s murder, the care of her children, the funeral arrangements, and having to quickly move out of the White House to make room for the new administration.  Yet, these things aren’t the focal point.  The film skews traditional bio-pic safety nets by allowing us to feel Jackie’s confusion and numbness during the on-rush of events.

This is a great American film.  It is a portrait of tragedy and loss and the attempts to visualize the sorrow and grief of an event that this country has never been able to lay to rest.  Jackie is by no means a happy movie, but it gives a face to a tragic event that has been portrayed by history for its details and less for its emotions.  America doesn’t have any mythologies as it did with the Kennedy family and that notion ties up the film’s ending.  Jackie stands in much the same position that King Arthur did at the end of the musical “Camelot” at the realization that the grand spirit and lofty ideals of the once-proud kingdom are gone. “Don’t let it be forgot/That once there was a spot/For one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.”

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2016) Filed in: Uncategorized