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« Best Picture - How many and which ones?| Main| TV Review: Taboo »
Wednesday
Jan 11 2017

FYC: Jackie's Original Score by Mica Levi

by Sean Donovan

You sit down in a movie theater to see the latest biopic that has earned a superstar Oscar heat,and after the series of trailers for undoubtedly happier movies you could be seeing,you stare at a black screen.Gradually you hear something,a strong string note that quickly careens down the scale into dissonant whine.It's immediately upsetting,destabilizing: flat and lacking grace when you were promised a classy portrait of one of America's most iconic first ladies.So disjunctive it possesses a strange,ethereal beauty.It reminds me of the sound of an airplane flying overhead,fitting for a film where some of the most dramatic scenes occur onboard Air Force One.

Music is the standard-bearer for everything that makesJackiean unusual Oscar contender...

a frosty film that emphasizes the un-ending pain of grief and refuses to give the audience a warm shoulder to cry upon.We cinephiles learn to work with the biopic,we expect a few every year to draw undue praise from critics and awards groups,falling head over heels in love with stories of great individuals from history while other more creative work goes under-praised.Jackieis different,as its own award season batting average emphasizes: voters are quick to honor the costume-y drag of Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy (to my mind the least interesting part of this massively interesting film) but hesitant to embrace the other aspects of the film.Mica Levi's music sets that tone of surprising expectations,introducing and paving the way for an experimental film that negates any "Great Woman of History"presentation for a more personal internalized examination of grief.

Levi is already known to many filmgoers for her iconic work on the score forUnder the Skin,where her dissonant whirring and whining matched that story of extraterrestrial visitation perfectly.Levi is a surprising match forJackie,but just as Scarlett Johansson's alien felt out of place inUnder the Skin,inhabiting a body she barely understood,so doesJackiedepict a first lady becoming increasingly cognizant of her hollow costume,this creation that is "Jackie Kennedy"weaving her narrative of Camelot.Mica Levi's injection of her creepy stringed ambience helps this self-discovery take a clear focus in the film.

Aside from Portman's equal rival to the Best Actress throne,Emma Stone inLa La Land,the lead acting races of the Oscars 2016 are dominated by two portraits of immense grief and mourning,亚博主页Portman here and Casey Affleck inManchester by the Sea.Manchesterhas a musical score worthy of its protagonist: muted and understated,suppressing the wells of emotion within.Jackieis an opposite depiction of grief: while Affleck's Lee locks everything inside,Portman's Jackie creates a spectacle for the world,demanding a more and more extravagant funeral demonstration in a futile attempt to get the external world to match her internal sorrow.Such demonstrative grief needs a score to go with it,and you cannot sit throughJackiewithout being compelled by its radically unhinged music.

more on...
Jackie|Biopics|Composers|FYCs|Oscar Race

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Reader Comments (4)

Good read,and great score.Glad to learn someone else finds Portman one of the least memorable aspects of this film,as did I.Levi does wonders with rotting strings and silences between notes.

January 11,2017 | Unregistered CommenterGabe

It should honestly win Original Score in a cake walk,if only for the haunting "Burial"piece.

January 11,2017 | Unregistered CommenterEric

I don't understand why so much hate against Natalie performance,she is great as Jackie,and probably I'm gonna be killed by this but her performance and the way the show the critical mental health of Jackie in that point of her life remind me a bit of Vivien Leigh in a Streetcar named Desiree,Jackie deserves Actress,Costume design and set decorations oscars ...I don't think that Jackie is gonna win bet original score even as deserving as it is that award is going for Lala landing picture,亚博主页director,screenplay,cinematography,etc ...don't get me wrong I would love to see Emma taking the Oscar,but she was relaying a lot in Ryan charms,and Isabelle is good,but I don't feel it's her best performance...so STOP this hate against Natalie she is a great actress and she is from this new generation of great actors !

January 11,2017 | Unregistered CommenterLuis15LA

Buzz must be growing for Jacke because we tried to see it last Thurs evening here in Chi and it was nearly sold out (I won't sit in the front row).

January 11,2017 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

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