New Hollywood film, Jackie, starring Natalie Portman, challenges the angelic image of the former First Lady as a gentle and vulnerable woman instead depicting her as manipulative. Tom Leonard says the film shows her to be a woman obsessed with preserving her husband’s legacy who is rumoured to have had a number of affairs, much like her famously adulterous husband.
Do you want to know the sound the bullet made when it collided with my husband’s skull, she asks provocatively.
It’s November 1963 and in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, a journalist has been summoned to the door of the world’s most iconic woman — just a week after her husband has been brutally shot dead.
Like the rest of the world, the last time he saw Jacqueline Kennedy she was wearing a pink Chanel suit still spattered with the blood of John F. Kennedy, cradling his head as the presidential motorcade sped through the streets of Dallas.
Immaculate, even in grief, the First Lady checks over his notes and bluntly tells him what he can and cannot quote her on.
Gone is the fashion-obsessed style goddess and subservient presidential wife. In her place is an imperious, prickly, insincere manipulator, hell-bent on ensuring the mythical status of her husband’s presidency.
So begins Jackie, a new feature film starring Natalie Portman as the most feted First Lady in U.S. history.
Everyone is supposed to remember where they were when they heard JFK had been killed, but we all know where Jackie was: right by his side. Her dignity in shouldering a nation’s grief, as well as her own, earned her immense respect — even as scandals over JFK’s compulsive womanising and huge consumption of amphetamines and steroids ate away at his once-revered reputation.
Mrs Kennedy — later Jackie O after she married Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis — died in 1994. Her famous ‘look’ is still copied by women such as Kate Middleton and George Clooney’s wife Amal, not to mention the new First Lady, Melania Trump, who so obviously chanelled Jackie O at last week’s inauguration.
Now, Hollywood has taken the plunge and re-examined the character of Mrs Kennedy. And, while Jackie certainly doesn’t provide the sort of idolisation that will satisfy her devotees, its portrayal of her takes one thing for granted: that she was devoted to JFK.
But, in recent days, rumours that have been rumbling for years have resurfaced that she had a string of celebrity affairs, including one with British comedian Peter Cook.