Toronto film festival gets political with ‘Jackie,’ ‘LBJ’ and ‘Barry’
Films depicting US political figures Jackie Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Barack Obama are focus at the festival in Toronto
With global attention trained on the looming US election, the Toronto film festival looked back this week at American political figures Jacqueline Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and a young Barack Obama.
Based on Theodore White's Life magazine interview with the former first lady at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts a week after US president John F. Kennedy's 1963 death in Dallas, Texas, the film retells JFK's assassination through the eyes of a grieving widow who maintained her poise. “We couldn't just tell the story of Camelot,” Larrain said at the festival.
The film stars Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy and Peter Sarsgaard -- who also appeared at the festival in “The Magnificent Seven” -- as Jackie's brother-in-law Robert, Greta Gerwig as Jackie's aide, Billy Crudup as journalist White and John Hurt as a Catholic priest who counselled her. Picking up from there, Rob Reiner's “LBJ” stars Woody Harrelson -- who also appeared at the festival in “The Edge of Seventeen” -- playing Kennedy's successor Lyndon Johnson.
Skipping ahead two decades, Australian Devon Terrell's dead-ringer portrayal of America's current president in Vikram Gandhi's “Barry” received more rousing applause in Toronto.
The film, which premiered Saturday, takes viewers back to the fall of 1981, when a young Barack Obama arrives at New York's Columbia University as a transfer student. His relationships with his Kansas-born mother (played by Ashley Judd), estranged Kenyan father and classmates (Anya Taylor-Joy, Ellar Coltrane and Jason Mitchell) become strained as glaring social inequalities force him to confront questions about his identity.