“Jackie,” in which a blood-soaked, chain-smoking Jacqueline Kennedy copes with her husband’s assassination, is the kind of movie that can only be made with the passage of time—53 years, in this case. If such a wrenching docudrama were attempted when its subject was still alive, depicting her trying to keep her dying husband’s brains in his head, it would have been an act of brutality. Too soon, for her and for the country.
Now, all the adults who witnessed the horrible events of November 1963 are in their 70s or older. “Jackie” represents the last stop on the Kennedys’ long, slow passage into history. Their saga remains fascinating, but it isn’t current anymore—not the back story, not the assassination, and not the Kennedy political brand, either.
From the ’60s to the ’90s—when the Kennedy machine was revved up and waiting for the right moment to take the country by storm—filmmakers felt compelled to have a point of view. The Kennedy-themed movies and miniseries of that era ranged from worshipful (Oliver Stone’s “JFK,” in which Kevin Costner declares, “Don’t forget your dying king”) to veritable oppo-dumps of scheming, profanity, philandering and election-stealing.
“Jackie” is a moving tale about a woman facing an almost impossible situation. It seeks to appeal to the same audience as the new film about Queen Victoria whose trailer preceded it. But it’s almost as much of an echo of a distant past. It doesn’t carry so much as a whiff of a political message, either way. The murdered commander-in-chief could have been a conservative Republican, for all anyone relying on the movie would know.
And that’s got to be a disappointing revelation for Democrats, in their current state of self-reflection, because, though they would never guess it from “Jackie,” the Kennedy brand of politics may be just what they’re looking for.
That brand was created by Robert and Ted Kennedy in the haunted aftermath of their brother’s assassination, drawing on the same public yearning for meaning and connection that Jackie Kennedy tapped into when she compared her husband’s presidency to Camelot.
This article continues at [Politico] The End of the Kennedy Mystique