Throughout the inauguration of Donald Trump we witnessed many things. Mass protesting, controversy over crowd size and Melania’s frown/smile. An eclectic mix, and while Trump was hit with a torrid of protest, his female entourage remained relatively unscathed.
Ivanka Trump (the most popular First Daughter to date) and her sartorial elegance, alongside Melania Trump in her powder blue Ralph Lauren commanded centre stage. One national newspaper even expressed that Melania’s choice of inauguration attire set a ‘gracious dignified tone’ for the Trump administration. Such was the sartorial power of the recently inaugurated First Lady.
Yet, the Trump women are not the only First Family to come under intense media scrutiny. Particularly, the private and public life of the First Lady has long been of interest to the public. The fascination of the First Lady has even drawn her to the silver screen. Here’s the performances that stick to mind…
Sally Fields as Mary Todd Lincoln
The first ‘First’ Lady, so to speak. Mary Todd Lincoln introduced the concept of the ‘First Lady’, however it was not a term of endearment. She was widely disliked in the Whitehouse for her perceived ‘outspoken’ views. Fields, being the actress that she is, captures this perfectly. She utterly embodies the role, both physically and emotionally. Fields even admitted to gaining 25 pounds for the role. Yet it was most certainly worth it. An unflinching and honest portrayal that Fields certainly makes her own.
Director Steven Spielberg was initially nervous about casting Fields, as he felt the age gap between her and her co-star Daniel Day-Lewis too large. Fields fought for the role and her hunger to capture the character of Mary Todd Lincoln certainly shows in her performance. Undeniably superb.
Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan
Physically it’s a near perfect match. However, before the film even came to the silver screen critics chastised the choice. The legendary Hollywood liberal playing Reagan seemed an odd choice, yet Fonda seems to own the part. While the ideologies may have clashed, Fonda totally encapsulates the poised Reagan. Apparently the real Nancy Reagan was rather pleased with the choice of casting.
Joan Allen as Pat Nixon
Joan Allen casts a perfect First Lady in her portrayal as Pat Nixon. Her facial expressions, dialogue and movements convey the internal conflicts of First Lady Nixon.
She plays Nixon as controlled, studied but simultaneously vulnerable, and undeniably loyal and protective over her husband. It is a worthy portrayal and Allen thoroughly deserved her subsequent Oscar nomination for the role.
Elizabeth Banks as Laura Bush
Hardly a conventional choice to play First Lady, however Banks does perfect the Texan accent, stillness of movement and hairstyles. The film is firmly cemented in comedy and satire, which makes it rather absurd viewing at times. Banks gives a warm sympathetic performance, but even she can’t save this rather odd and jarring film.
Natalie Portman as Jackie Kennedy
Jackie Kennedy is the most celebrated and universally recognised First Lady to date. It is with little wonder that Melania Trump aspires to adopt the same wardrobe and sartorial elegance. Yet, Natalie Portman delves deeper into the troubled psyche of Jackie, days after she witnessed her husband’s assassination. This is not the Jackie of her portraits. This is a troubled Jackie, conniving and fragile, instable but controlling.
The myriad of personalities and faces of Jackie is portrayed perfectly in this intimate portrait. Portman is fantastic. Little wonder she’s an Oscar tipped winner.