When the trailers came out a few months back, I was not exactly sure what the timeframe of the film would be. The film takes place right after the assassination of JFK, spanning over only a few days. By choosing to focus on a very short time period, Pablo Larrain's (Neruda) direction is centered around the character rather than big events. For this reason the film chugs along slowly so that the audience is forced to study Jackie's thoughts and actions. This is a full character study after an event that formed the main character. It is nice to see that Jackie is the focal point, rather than her popular husband. It is not often that directors choose to create a story around a strong female character. Yet, that is the beauty of contemporary indie filmmaking. We finally get good roles for actresses to portray.
To create the connection between the audience and Jackie, Larrain uses close-up shots, putting us directly in front of the character. We see every ounce of emotion in Portman's facial expressions, proving her abilities as a lead actress. Personally, I was not alive at the time of the events that take place on screen, so the grainy footage also adds to the film's time period. A good amount of the film looks like it was taken from cameras that were actually filming in the 1960s. That sounds weird, but these subtle decisions in filmmaking create an authentic atmosphere for the audience.
The Bottom Line: Portman's authentic acting and Larrain's superb direction re-create an interesting story that younger generations haven't been exposed to.