… there was a spot, for one brief, shining moment, that was known as Camelot.
Towards the end of Jackie, the title character ruminates on her deceased husband. As a boy, he loved history. He especially loved the tales of Camelot. It does not matter that Camelot never existed, a figment of the collective imagination conjured into being through generations of myth and legend. People wanted to believe in Camelot, and so they invested it with a texture that seemed to manifest itself. Camelot was a story, but it was a story that was in many ways more appealing than the truth.
Jackie is a story about mythmaking. Arch and playful, self-aware and self-critical, Jackie tightens its focus on Jackie Onassis Kennedy to the days immediately following the death of her beloved husband. Using the iconic Time magazine interview as a framing device, Jackie follows its protagonist as she sets about building a legacy and a legend around John F. Kennedy. The lines between history and mythology blur, Jackie cleverly contrasting the title character’s restoration of the White House with her construction of her husband’s legend.
There are points at which Jackie seems a little too manner and a little too stage-managed, a little too perfect and a little too rehearsed. There are points at which Natalie Portman slips from being Jackie Onassis Kennedy playing the widow to a beloved legend to being Natalie Portman playing Jackie Onassis Kennedy playing the widow to a beloved legend. This sort of sly recursion is very much in fitting with the tone of the film, but it does occasionally feel a little too cold and a little too distant.