Natalie Portman stars in ‘Jackie,’ in theaters in December 2016. Facebook
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Portman, in All Her Glory, Transforms Into Kennedy, in All Her Pain

‘Jackie’ tells the story of the First Lady in the days following JFK’s assassination

Rachel Shukert
October 11, 2016
Natalie Portman stars in 'Jackie,' in theaters in December 2016. Facebook

I think I’ve told this story before: Once, I tried to give my mother some advice about what wine to serve with dinner, and I guess she took it the wrong way because she snidely replied: “Gee, Rachel, we can’t all be the Jewish Jackie Kennedy?” (It’s Yom Kippur time, so don’t worry, we’ve long forgiven each other.)

Well, I didn’t have the right comeback at the time, which was, obviously: “Don’t be ridiculous, Natalie Portman is the Jewish Jackie Kennedy.” Because at last, here we are, on the cusp of release of the new biopic, Jackie, starring Queen Natalie as the most iconic first lady of all time, living through the aftermath of her husband’s assassination. The first trailer just came out, and let me tell you: It’s got everything. The pink suit. The widow’s black veil. The blood running off her back in the shower. And intoning over it all, Richard Burton’s funereal lament from the end of the Broadway show Camelot, to which the Kennedy administration was famously compared.

Despite all that, the movie looks good. More than that, it looks serious. Jackie Kennedy has been portrayed in countless works of film and fiction, but until now, the vast majority have been vaguely trashy miniseries, like A Woman Named Jackie, or Jacqueline Susann’s bizarre roman-a-clef Dolores, which details a thinly veiled version of the Onassis years, or the Reelz thing a couple of years ago that no one saw with Katie Holmes and Greg Kinnear (Greg Kinnear!) as JFK. Hang on, I’m going to look up what it was called for you, like a real journalist. The Kennedys. It was called The Kennedys, and, apparently, Matthew Perry, AKA Chandler Bing, played Ted.

Which is to say that it’s well past time for Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, probably one of the most intriguing, tragic, and least understood women of the 20th century, to receive heavyweight artistic exploration beyond her identity as a fashion icon, wronged wife, or tabloid Bigfoot. And who better than Natalie Portman, in all her breathy, deeply and quietly intelligent, Dior-clad gamine glory, to play her?

Nobody! Nobody is the answer, because as readers of this column know—whether she’s directing and starring in movies, being a mother (and naming her children things that make them sound like characters in the Hebrew-dubbed version of The Matrix), or being polite to Jonathan Safran Foer in emails that didn’t even have to be hacked by Russians for us all to read them—Natalie Portman is perfect, just like Jackie Kennedy was. Somebody has to win the Oscar of 5777, and it might as well be her.

On that note, have a good Yom Kippur, everyone, and an easy fast if that’s something that you do, and just remember: No matter how hungry you are, you’ll never look as effortless in a little black dress as either Natalie or Jackie. See you in the Book of Life!


Rachel Shukert is the author of the memoirs Have You No Shame? and Everything Is Going To Be Great,and the novel Starstruck. She is the creator of the Netflix show The Baby-Sitters Club, and a writer on such series as GLOW and Supergirl. Her Twitter feed is @rachelshukert.

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