Natalie Portman gives an Oscar-worthy performance as 'Jackie'

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Sandy Kenyon reviews the biopic "Jackie," starring Natalie Portman as the former first lady

Jackie Kennedy was an icon of a generation plunged into tragedy, and in the new movie "Jackie," Oscar winner Natalie Portman gives us a window into the life of the former first lady after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Oscar buzz is already circulating around Portman as universal praise rolls in for her performance as the title character, but she is even better than the picture itself.

The new movie seeks to enter the mind and heart of the first lady in the hours following her husband's assassination.

Jackie had such a unique style and became a fashion icon, and watching this film, it's easy to see why. Her voice was so distinctive, it's proven to be impossible to imitate until now.

Portman bears only a superficial resemblance to one of the 20th century's most famous women, but she has gone beyond mere impersonation to suggest new truths about a character so many
of us think we know. And for that alone, the star deserves the Oscar nomination she will surely get next month.

Like the best biopics, "Jackie" doesn't seek to tell her whole story but instead offers a mere slice of her life, a sliver of time before and after the assassination - when she sat for an unusual interview.

Billy Crudup's journalist role was very real, as was the character's unusual interview with "Jackie." What resulted was a myth called "Camelot" -- a narrative Mrs. Kennedy based on a Broadway musical of the same name. The story line she made is so believable, it persists to this day.

The movie is filled with startling imagery, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts. It is more admirable than truly absorbing.

The Kennedy assassination has been described as a riddle wrapped in a mystery" and the same can be said of the late Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Portman gives a fine performance in the title role but "Jackie" isn't so much a full portrait as a sketch of a complex woman who is impossible to fully understand.
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