Why did he mention Thunderbirds? #film review #Jackie


We went to see Jackie recently. We heard lots of good reviews though usually with the warning ‘it’s not exactly fun’ ‘ don’t expect to come out smiling’ ‘it’s a toughie’.

I’m old enough, just, to remember where I was when the news John Kennedy had been shot came through. At least I remember my parents talking about it and them having to explain what ‘assassination’ meant. Ā I’ve lived with the conspiracy theorists, the historians discussing legacy and whether more was achieved by his death than if he’d remained alive as the flawed politician and human that he clearly was.

I knew Jackie married Aristotle Onassis later and more tragedy than is fair has battered the Kennedy clan.

But I knew bugger all about Jackie and her role in the events surrounding the death. The joy – and I use that word advisedly – in this film is it manages the difficult tightrope of covering the macro political issues with the intensity of the personal trauma that enveloped Jackie Kennedy in the aftermath of the shooting.

It is graphic – the shooting is depicted – but for me it was the blood that she tried and failed to wipe from her hair and face before she flew back to Washington that had me wincing.

The narrative arc of this film is underpinned by an interview between Jackie and a journalist – a patent device, even if a true event, that helped the director jump around in time. That jarred in places as we were treated to Jackie’s philosophy, articulated at the outset, about how history treats its heroes. In one neat scene she asks the hearse driver and an accompanying woman (not sure what her role was) if they knew who two other presidents were, both of whom were assassinated – they didn’t – and then asked about Lincoln, who, of course, they both knew. It became Jackie’s sole goal to ensure, to the extent it was within her power, that Kennedy was in the Lincoln category, mimicking his funeral arrangements for instance. For her, at the outset, it was all about legacy.

All good films are about the journey and this is no exception. I’ve probably spoilt the plot enough and don’t intend to explain what her journey was but it involved another conversational device, this time with John Hurt (this film had an oddly visceral link with death, as Hurt died the day I saw the film) as a priest who counsels her before the final reburial of her dead children next to their father.

Natalie Portman is a talent; she holds this film, at times seemingly on the verge of madness. By way of contrast Peter Sarsgaard as Bobby is about as convincing as my golf swing. Jackie needs a foil but his performance feels like it, too, came off a roll of paper-thin tin.

And Thunderbirds? Simon Mayo, who reviews films on the radio with the excellent Mark Kermode, sowed a subversive idea in my head, that came to him as he watched Jackie. He said he realised that every time he saw Portman in that pink outfit he was convinced he was seeing a real life Lady Penelope. He was right; it is at times an uncanny comparison. Fortunately, I managed to move beyond the image and I hope you do too.

Finally thanks to Kermode I was made aware of the extraordinary score; I don’t know what the sliding device they used is called – it has some musical description – but it really does enhance the mood. Which isn’t always the case.

So, if you’re up for a bit of a serious one and can take a brain splatter after your supper, see this film. It may not make you think and I doubt it will stay with you for long but it’s a well crafted piece.

Oddly about two thirds into the film a couple in, I guess, their late sixties, shuffled along our row and took the only two empty seats in the auditorium. When the film ended some 30 minutes later a hushed argument ensued as we waited to leave. Let’s start with the woman.

‘We came to the wrong showing.’

‘No, it’s definitely this one. I don’t understand why they started early.’

‘Of course they didn’t start early. Don’t be a moron.’ Pause. ‘What do the tickets say?’

Shuffle. ‘Oh damn.’

‘What have you done.’

‘I thought it was a 9.15 start but it was 19.15…’

Best dialogue of the night, frankly.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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30 Responses to Why did he mention Thunderbirds? #film review #Jackie

  1. Thanks for the honest review, Geoff. Good to hear the good and the bad.
    I had to giggle at the couple in front of you. šŸ˜€ šŸ˜› šŸ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ritu says:

    It’s another on my to watch list. Thanks for the review His Geoffleship!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That is a week that I remember all too vividly. Not sure I’d see this movie. Interesting that the theater was full…not sure it’s going over that well here in the US ???

    Liked by 1 person

  4. trifflepudling says:

    I’d like to see this but don’t feel that good about it because a lot of the Kennedys alive at the time are still here. Particularly feel for Caroline and her children and also Jackie’s sister, who’s still on the go. It feels like rubbernecking, like the Twin Towers which were not just buildings but thousands of people. So although I like your review a lot (better than the newspapers!) it’s finally decided me not to go šŸ˜‰.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Denzil says:

    I’ll try not to hum the theme tune of Thunderbirds throughout the showing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mary Smith says:

    This is on my list to see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Do. There’s a lot to it. I didn’t go for the structure and the caricatures for some of the cast.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mary Smith says:

        I’ve always thought Jackie was a bit of an enigma and it doesn’t sound as if she is any less so in the film. I’ll definitely see it. La La Land is fully booked up at our local cinema so I’ll have to wait.
        Did you see A United Kingdom? I thought it was really good – best film I’ve seen this year.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        Ah we missed it so we have booked tickets to the one local showing we could find – the seniors morning in a couple of weeks with free travel and garibaldis

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Allie P. says:

    Thanks for the review! I’ve heard a number of good things about Portman’s performance.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I’m not good with graphic detail, so thanks for the warning – if I see it I’ll close my eyes when the Dallas drive comes along. Not sure now if I want to see it though and it was on the list. John Hurt died? He was a great actor! I appreciate your reviews!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. jan says:

    Our local movie reviewer didn’t like Portman’s performance at all – said basically she was reprising her role in the Black Swan. He claimed Jackie had a forceful presence which Portman failed to convey.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Damn you, I can’t get the Thunderbirds music out of my head now! Still, it’s good for housework šŸ˜„

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank God you didn’t actually reflect on the merits (or otherwise) of International Rescue. That’s another one I’ll be writing about at some point and I didn’t want you stealing my…. Oh, hang on…

    Liked by 1 person

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