Starring: Natalie Portman, Greta Gerwig, Peter Sarsgaard, Max Casella, Beth Grant, Billy Crudup, Richard E. Grant, John Hurt, Caspar Phillipson
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Bio-drama directed by Pablo Larraín. which film follows Jacqueline Kennedy (Natalie Portman) seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady. The story places us in her world during the days immediately following her husband’s, President John F. Kennedy (Caspar Phillipson), assassination. Known for her extraordinary dignity and poise, here we see a psychological portrait of the First Lady as she struggles to maintain her husband’s legacy and the world of “Camelot” that they created and loved so well.
Our Favorite Quotes:
Jackie Kennedy: Have you read what they’ve been writing? Krock and Merriman and all the rest?
The Journalist: Yes, I have.
Jackie Kennedy: Merriman is such a bitter man. It’s been just one week. Already they’re treating him like some dusty old artifact, to be shelved away. That’s no way to be remembered.
The Journalist: And how would you like him remembered, Mrs. Kennedy?
Jackie Kennedy: You understand that I will be editing this conversation? Just in case I don’t say exactly what I mean.
The Journalist: With all due respect, that seems very unlikely, Mrs. Kennedy.
The Journalist: [Jackie just looks at him] Right. Okay. So, this will be your own version of what happened?
Jackie Kennedy: Exactly.
Jackie Kennedy: Do you know what I think of history?
The Journalist: Of history?
Jackie Kennedy: I’ve read a great deal, more than people realize. The more I read, the more I wonder, when something is written down, does that make it true?
The Journalist: It’s all that we have.
Jackie Kennedy: Had. We have television now. At least people can see for their own eyes.
Jackie Kennedy: Objects and artifacts last far longer than people, and they represent important ideas in history, identity, beauty.
The Journalist: Royalty. You make him sound like royalty.
Jackie Kennedy: Well, for royalty you need tradition. And for tradition, you need time.
The Journalist: Is your faith helping you?
Jackie Kennedy: I’d prefer to discuss my faith with a priest. You’re not a man of the cloth, are you?
The Journalist: No. No, I’m not. I’m just trying to get to the truth. That’s what reporters do.
Jackie Kennedy: Oh, the truth. Well, I’ve grown accustomed to a great divide between what people believe and what I know to be real.
The Journalist: Fine, I will settle for a story that’s believable.
Jackie Kennedy: That’s more like it.
'The darkness may never go away, but it won't always be this heavy.' - The Priest (Jackie) Click To Tweet
Jackie Kennedy: You know, I used to be a reporter myself once. I know what you’re looking for.
The Journalist: I’m sorry?
Jackie Kennedy: A moment-by-moment account. That’s what you came here for, isn’t it? You want me to describe the sound the bullet made when it collided with my husband’s skull.
Jackie Kennedy: [recalling when Kennedy was shot] There’d been the biggest motorcade from the airport. Hot, wild, like Mexico or Vienna. The sun was strong in our faces, but I couldn’t wear my sunglasses. Jack has his hand out, and I see a piece of his skull come off. And it was flesh-colored, it wasn’t white, and he slumps in my lap. His blood and his brains are in my lap. And I’m saying, “Jack, Jack, can you hear me? Jack! I love you, Jack!” And his head was so beautiful, and his mouth was beautiful, and his eyes were open. I was trying to keep the top of his head down, keep it all in. He had the most wonderful expression on his face, you know? Just before they’d ask him a question, just before he’d answer, he looked puzzled. I knew he was dead.
The Journalist: Mrs. Kennedy…
Jackie Kennedy: Don’t think for one second that I’m going to let you publish that. You understand?
The Journalist: Yes. Yes, of course. Yes, I understand.
The Journalist: Leaving that house must have been very difficult.
Jackie Kennedy: A first lady must always be ready to pack her suitcases. It’s inevitable.
Jackie Kennedy: How would you write that?
The Journalist: “She lights yet another cigarette and explains through her soft sobs that Jack wasn’t perfect, but he was perfect for our country. And I ask about his flaws, and she explains…”
Jackie Kennedy: Perfect people can’t change. Jack was always getting better, stronger. Sometimes he would walk into the desert alone, just to let himself be tempted by the devil. But he’d always come back to us, his beloved family. And I don’t smoke.
Jackie Kennedy: I shouldn’t say these things.
The Priest: That’s why we’re here, isn’t it? To talk about what happened?
Jackie Kennedy: Is this a confession?
The Priest: Well, only if there’s something you regret.
Jackie Kennedy: Everyone knows my story.
The Priest: God isn’t interested in stories. He’s interested in the truth.
Jackie Kennedy: I came here looking for sympathy, father.
The Priest: Of course.
Jackie Kennedy: Father, are you listening?
The Priest: I’m listening. Yes, I think so.
'There are two kinds of women. Those who want power in the world, and those who want power in bed.' - Jackie Kennedy (Jackie) Click To Tweet
Jackie Kennedy: I think God is cruel.
The Priest: Well, now you’re getting into trouble. God is love, and God is everywhere.
Jackie Kennedy: Was he in the bullet that killed Jack?
The Priest: Absolutely.
Jackie Kennedy: Is he inside me now?
The Priest: Yes, of course. Of course he is.
Jackie Kennedy: Well, that’s a funny game he plays, hiding all the time.
The Priest: The fact that we don’t understand him isn’t funny at all.
Jackie Kennedy: If there’s a heaven, then there’s your God, with all his empty promises. What kind of God takes a father from his two little children?
The Priest: Thy lord sacrificed his only son.
Jackie Kennedy: And my two babies, Arabella in the womb, and Patrick. Thirty-nine hours on earth, just long enough to fall in love with him. What did I do to deserve that?
The Priest: Nothing.
Jackie Kennedy: Jack and I hardly ever spent the night together. Not even that last night in Fort Worth.
The Priest: Your husband loved you, Mrs. Kennedy. I’m sure of it.
Jackie Kennedy: I seem to remember there being more to our vows. Don’t look at me like that. I was first lady of the United States, women have endured far worse for far less. There are two kinds of women. Those who want power in the world, and those who want power in bed. Of course, now what am I left with? When men see me now, what do you think they feel?
The Priest: Sadness. Compassion. Desire, maybe. You’re still a young woman, Mrs. Kennedy.
Jackie Kennedy: I used to make them smile.
Jackie Kennedy: I picture him on that rocking chair in his office, Caroline and John at his feet. How could I hate him?
The Priest: Take comfort in those memories.
Jackie Kennedy: I can’t. They’re mixed up with all the others.
Lyndon B Johnson: We got to get a handle on this thing. We got to get involved.
Jack Valenti: Yes, sir.
Lyndon B Johnson: This is making us look like a bunch of goddamn barbarians.
Jackie Kennedy: I lie awake at night, and all I can think is I should have been a shop girl or a stenographer. I should have married an ordinary, lazy, ugly man.
The Priest: Let me share with you a parable. Jesus once passed a blind beggar on the road, and his disciples asked, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” And Jesus said, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned. He was made blind so that the works of God could be revealed in him.” And with that, he placed mud on his eyes and told him to wash in the Pool of Siloam. And the man did, and he came back seeing. Right now you are blind, not because you have sinned, but because you have been chosen so that the works of God can be revealed in you.
'The characters we read about on the page end up being more real than the men who stand beside us.' - Jackie Kennedy (Jackie) Click To Tweet
Jackie Kennedy: I lost track, somewhere what was real, what was performance.
Bill Walton: Well, he was a president.
Jackie Kennedy: You were right earlier. I’m not going to march tomorrow. I won’t put people in danger on account of my vanity.
Bill Walton: I was scared for you, I still am. But I never thought it was vanity.
Jackie Kennedy: You know, that’s what Jack called all this. When he saw what we were spending, he said, “Your little vanity project is going to bankrupt the federal government.”
Bill Walton: People need their history. It gives them strength. They need to know that real men actually lived here, not ghosts and storybook legends, people who faced adversity and overcame it. What you’ve done in this house matters.
Jackie Kennedy: That’s kind of you, Bill. Even I’m starting to lose him. Pretty soon he’ll just be another oil portrait lining these hallways.
Bobby Kennedy: What’s wrong with you?
Jackie Kennedy: What’s wrong with me?
Bobby Kennedy: History is harsh. There’s no time. We’re ridiculous. Look at you. I’m sorry.
Jackie Kennedy: Mr. Valenti. Would you mind getting a message to all our funeral guests when they land?
Jack Valenti: Of course.
Jackie Kennedy: Inform them that I will walk with Jack tomorrow, alone if necessary. And tell General de Gaulle that if he wishes to ride in an armored car or in a tank for that matter, I won’t blame him. And I’m sure the tens of millions of people watching won’t either.
Jack Valenti: Why are you doing this, Mrs. Kennedy?
Jackie Kennedy: Oh, I’m just doing my job.
Jackie Kennedy: We all live on far after our deaths. Presidents will come and go, and every one of them will look up to Jack for guidance, for inspiration.
The Journalist: What do you say to those who say he didn’t deserve it? The scale of it. I mean, he was a great president, but he didn’t win the civil war, for instance.
Jackie Kennedy: It was a funeral for the president of the United States.
The Journalist: Your husband drove cars, he didn’t ride horses.
Jackie Kennedy: Yes, and there should have been more of them. There should be more horses, more soldiers, more crying, more cameras!
The Journalist: I’m guessing you won’t allow me to write any of that.
Jackie Kennedy: No, because I never said that. Perhaps Jack didn’t have time to defeat communism, but I do seem to recall…
The Journalist: With all due respect, you were at the center of it all, Mrs. Kennedy, and I’d imagine it’s impossible to have any perspective from that vantage point, but I can assure you that it was a spectacle.
Jackie Kennedy: Nancy said they wanted to share my grief, so I let them. But after, I realized that all the pageantry, all the demands I made to honor him, it wasn’t for Jack or his legacy. It was for me.
Jackie Kennedy: I wrote him a letter. That night, before we moved the casket to the capitol. Do you know what I wrote? That I wanted to die.
The Priest: I understand.
Jackie Kennedy: Do you?
The Priest: I do. Unless you are asking my permission.
Jackie Kennedy: No, only crass, self-indulgent people kill themselves. No, I was just hoping that if I walked down the street next to Jack’s body, maybe someone would be kind enough to do it for me.
The Priest: In front of the whole world? Famous life, famous death.
Jackie Kennedy: But I never wanted fame. I just became a Kennedy.
Jackie Kennedy: I told everyone that I can’t remember. It’s not true. I can remember. I can remember everything. The first bullet. Boom. Then boom. I could have saved him. I should have known it was a gunshot. I should have shielded him. I tried to stop the bleeding, but when we got to the hospital, it was… That night, and every night since, I pray to die. Won’t God let me be with my husband?
Jackie Kennedy:You know, every night before bed, we had this Old Victrola. We’d listen to a couple records. His favorite was Camelot.
The Journalist: The musical?
Jackie Kennedy: Oh, I’m so ashamed of myself. Every quote out of Jack’s mouth was either Greek or Roman. And that last song, that last side of Camelot, is all that keeps running through my mind. “Don’t let it be forgot, that for one brief, shining moment there was a Camelot.”
The Priest: Why are you really here?
Jackie Kennedy: Because I needed to talk.
The Priest: You say that you pray every night to die, that your children have no use for you, you wish only to be with your husband. And yet, I’m not burying you today. There comes a time in man’s search for meaning, when one realizes that there are no answers. And when you come to that horrible, unavoidable realization, you accept it or you kill yourself. Or you simply stop searching. I have lived a blessed life. And yet, every night, when I climb into bed, turn off the lights, and stare into the dark, I wonder, “Is this all there is?”
Jackie Kennedy: You wonder?
The Priest: Every soul on this planet does. But then, when morning comes, we all wake up and make a pot of coffee.
Jackie Kennedy: Why do we bother?
The Priest: Because we do. You did this morning, you will again tomorrow. But God, in his infinite wisdom, has made sure it is just enough for us.
'God isn't interested in stories. He's interested in the truth.' - The Priest (Jackie) Click To Tweet
Jackie Kennedy: [referring to the journalist] He wrote down every word.
The Priest: Did it help heal you?
Jackie Kennedy: It’s been reprinted all over the world. Maybe that’s what they’ll all believe now, Camelot. People like to believe in fairytales.
The Priest: And you? Do you believe you did him justice?
Jackie Kennedy: I believe that the characters we read about on the page end up being more real than the men who stand beside us. I should have guessed it was too much to ask that we grow old together, see our children grow up.
The Priest: The darkness may never go away, but it won’t always be this heavy.
Jackie Kennedy: I was just so happy that he could be proud. Because then I was having a baby, and I couldn’t campaign, and then we got in the White House, and all of the things I’d always done, and suddenly they became wonderful. Because anything the First Lady does that is different everyone seizes on. And I was just so happy for Jack that he could be proud of me. Those were our happiest years.