I’m obsessed with Jackie Kennedy. I don’t think I have to explain why. So weeks ago when I drove to the other side of earth to see Moonlight (in Fairfax, VA) and I saw the gigantic “Coming Soon” poster for Jackie, I completely freaked out, like, “Ohmigod! I have to see this opening day!
But then life happened and I forgot.
Fast forward six weeks or so. I’m siting at the kitchen table flipping thru a back issue of Washingtonian mag that my mother saved for me. (She saves magazines and the Style section of The Post for me. It’s my love language). I flip a page, and see an ad for Jackie and go all crazy all over again, or even crazier because it’s not coming soon, it’s been out for almost two weeks and I can go see it right now. Or within 90 minutes. There’s a 9:20 and a 9:50.
I’d planned to do nothing for the night, like actively planned to look at travel destinations on Pinterest. Maybe watch random ish on Netflix. While wearing my mother’s pajamas. They’re softer. But I immediately get up and go get re-dressed because now my life has a purpose, at least for the night: I’m going to see Jackie. Downtown.
My bestie, Ace (Yes, the Ace for all you ABIB readers) happens to text me something random and I invite her to go with me. She’s down. So now we are going to see Jackie.
Fast forward again. We get to the Landmark Theatre in the heart of DC at 9:45. It’s practically empty. We get tickets to the 9:50 show. We get Cherry Cokes and buttered popcorn from the concession stand and then we head into Theatre Six because that’s what the ticket says. The movie has already started. We grab seats on the end of a row. On screen, Jackie’s got on the pink suit with the blood stains on it. She’s in the White House. I’m confused. Is this the start of the movie? Because it’s 9:54.
I look at the ticket stub. It says 9:50. We’re in the wrong theatre, which is actually good, because I hate missing the start of movies.
So we leave and go find the right theatre. It’s down the hall, and it’s small and damn near empty. Four people. A group of three in the center of a row and then a random man all the way over in the corner. And it’s early enough that the house lights haven’t gone down yet. The group is a black girl and two of her friends..
Wait a damn minute!
I feel my eyes get big. I want to scream. Like fan girl out, like, well, a screaming, crying fan at a Michael Jackson concert. I want to go all completely damn left and act like Martin that time he sang with Jodeci on the Varnell Hill Show. But I keep my cool. At least until we pass by and sit in the row and seats directly behind the threesome. I swear, we’re not being weird; those seats were the center of the theatre.
I sit down and turn to Ace, who won’t look at me. I don’t have to talk. She’s been my best friend since I was 13. She can “hear” my face in her peripheral vision. She nods and whispers “yes, Yes, it’s her”. I send “OHMIGOD” vibes back to her because she stillll won’t look at me, and I know she doesn’t want me to talk and freak out.
I can’t help myself. I have to say something. I lean in and ask the group,” this is the 9:50 for Jackie, right?”
That sounded normal, right? That wasn’t invasive or weird, right?
All three of the threesome, including Malia Obama, say that it is indeed the 9:50 for Jackie. Malia turns around to me when she responds. She sounds like she does on TV. She’s even prettier in person. Her skin is unblemished and her hair is laid. She’s perfect. Perfect! This is like "meeting" Denise Huxtable. Actually, better. Because I love Malia Obama like I love Denise, but Malia isn't playing a role, she just is. She's Malia Obama!! I LOVE HER!!!! It’s all too much! I’m going crazy!
I think about snapping a pic because pics or it didn't happen, right? I don’t. Because she is surrounded with enough shady ass people that take sneak peaks (and videos) of her and those have ended up on the Internet. And as someone who has been on the receiving end of a sneak pic, it’s super violating.
And then I want to Tweet, “OMG! I’m at the movies with Malia!” But then, like, I don’t want to give away her location because people are nuts and someone just might be nuts enough to figure out where I am and show up to do something crazy. And I am protective of this person I don’t know, and haven’t actually met, but have watched grow up.
I decide that I am being ridiculous, not about being protective, but because I am freaking all the way out and I am the adult and she is young enough to be my legitimate kid, which then makes me feel old and then I think about that and not Malia until the lights go down and the movie starts.
Jackie is awesome. Like epic-awesome. I have no idea how much truth there is in Natalie Portman’s portrayal of Kennedy’s personality. But Portman’s Jackie is alternately vulnerable and witty, equipped with astounding clarity, biting wit, a lack of f—s, and a lot of foresight. She also drinks vodka straight with no ice, and chain smokes. Like I said, awesome. My obsession with Jackie O knows no bounds now.
The film follow Mrs. Kennedy from the day her husband is assassinated to about a week or so after when a Life reporter pops up at her new home to interview her about what happened, and the Kennedy legacy. It’s a very personal look at the roles Mrs. Kennedy takes on in the aftermath of the assassination: stoic grieving widow in public, lose her sh— grieving widow in private, mastermind of the funeral events and JFK legacy, mother, widow to a head of state, in-law of the Kennedys, former First Lady, etc. Portman nails all of it, but she’s at her best when she’s:
1) Jackie the Mastermind no matter what she’s masterminding;
2) Jackie the Privately Grieving Widow where she is simply human and becomes undone, an understandable reaction
3) Jackie in Shock, where she’s not so much grieving but going thru the motions.
There’s a scene where Mrs. Kennedy finally undresses on the night JFK was killed. In one day, she’s attended a parade with her husband, who was shot twice as she sat beside him and had his blood and brains splattered on her, reached across the back a moving car to gather his brain, gone to the Dallas hospital where he was pronounced dead, flown with his body on a private jet, where she sat with the casket, then left it briefly to witness the Vice President being sworn-in aboard the plane to replace her husband, and THEN she makes it back to the White House where she takes off the infamous bloody pink not-Chanel, not really, but kinda suit she’s intentionally refused to change out of because she wanted to be photographed in the aftermath of what had been done to her husband. Her stockings are soaked with blood. When she takes a shower, blood runs out of hair.
It’s eery AF.
The only thing worse, in terms of shock value, is the assassination scene. It comes unexpected and it’s graphic AF. I lurched forward when I saw it. Somehow I missed knowing how gruesome that was and thought that maybe Portman as Jackie and the director played up the scene for shock value.
Um, nope. I watched the real-time home video footage on YouTube when I got home. It’s not the best quality, but you can clearly see a second shot blowing half of JFK’s head off. My God! My God! How did I not know that? (In fairness, I was not born when it happened.)
It's a great movie. Like really great. And I say that while acknowledging that I missed half the movie. I spent a significant amount of time wondering what Malia Obama was thinking as she watched. I mean, a good portion of the movie is set in the White House, where she lives. And it’s entirely about a woman who occupied the role her mother currently occupies and the defining event in the film is POTUS's assassination and I wondered if that was weird for the Oldest First Kid to watch given all the death threats her father has received.
I also wondered what Malia thought, if anything, about the references to Camelot and how there would never be another. I mean, her parents are considered the second coming of Camelot. Black Camelot, if you will. Early on in the Obama presidency, FLOTUS was nicknamed Michelle O as a nod to Jackie, even though Jackie’s “O” moniker came after her husband was assassinated and she remarried a billionaire. I wondered if Malia thought of her family as Black Camelot or does she know that to Black people, the Obamas are our Camelot (not “Black Camelot”, just Camelot, even if no Black person actually references Camelot, the mythology is what we buy into, even moreso post-Election). I wondered about her context for her family. Does she recognize what her family means to people? Or are they just Mom and Dad, and Natasaha, and Bo and Sunny?
Full disclosure: I am completely projecting. I can't see Malia's face at all as she's sitting in front of me and her hair is down blocking her profile from my vantage point. She could have been sitting there gagging over the clothes as I would have been if she hadn't been there.
On a lighter note, during one of the scenes of Portman in the White House, Malia seemed to point out what was real and not to her friends. ( I say "seemed", because I couldn't hear her. I'm speculating based off hand motions.) HA! I wondered what it was like for her to watch a film where the setting is the place she’d likely be headed to after the film was over.
When the film ended, she and her friends got up and left. I didn’t say anything. Neither did Ace. We sat in the theatre, counted to 10 in our heads, then had total mini-screams that we’’d been holding in for like two hours because “Ermigawd! MALIA MF OBAMA sat in front of us!!!!!” It’s like we were in the presence of royalty!