Head Held High

Earlier today Deadline‘s Mike Fleming reported that Fox Searchlight is “courting” Natalie Portman to play Jackie Kennedy in a film about the former First Lady’s ordeal in the immediate aftermath of JFK’s assassination. The project, Jackie, began life as a 2010 script by Noah Oppenheim, which I read and discussed on 4.15.10.

Jackie was originally going to be a Darren Aronofsky film with his then-wife Rachel Weisz as Jackie, but that went south when they broke up. “Portman likes the script,” Fleming writes, “but her participation will depend on who the director is.” No shit?

Here’s what I wrote two and a half years ago:

Jackie does indeed follow the former Mrs. Kennedy’s experience from the day of JFK’s assassination in Dallas on 11.22.63 to his burial in Arlington Cemetery four days hence. I’ve read enough about those four dark days to understand that Oppenheim’s script is basically a tasteful re-capturing of what happened, and that’s all.

“It’s an elegant, almost under-written thing — straight, clean, dignified. The dialogue seems genuine — trustable — in that it’s not hard to believe that Jackie or Bobby Kennedy or Larry O’Brien or Theodore H. White or Jack Valenti might have said these very lines in actuality.

“The portrait that emerges isn’t what anyone would call judgmental or intrusive, or even exploratory. Jackie Kennedy is depicted as pretty much the same, reserved, quietly classy woman of legend, determined to honor her husband’s memory by making decisions about aspects of his state funeral in her own way, according to what she feels he would have wanted, or what would be appropriately dignified.

“I don’t mean to sound like a smart-ass, but it’s more or less in the same wheelhouse as Roger Donaldson‘s Thirteen Days, the drama about the Cuban Missile Crisis. I had a feeling that while writing this Oppenheim was mindful of the screenplay style of Aaron Sorkin, and how the latter has almost authored a ‘how to’ manual about writing emotionally reserved but affecting stories about people who live and work in the White House. The difference is that this time they’re well-known figures and the dialogue is based on historical accounts.”