Review: Blue Jasmine
Following her rich husband’s financial demise, a now divorced and broke Jasmine is ousted from her life of luxury in New York City and forced to take up refuge with her sister in San Francisco. Jasmine reflects her past decisions, which includes turning a blind eye to her husband’s dealing and ruining her sister’s financial status, and tries to regroup and start life anew.
The film begins and ends with Cate Blanchett, who, as the tragic Jasmine, is riveting and both repulsive and empathetic. Alec Baldwin is her dismissive ex-husband, while Sally Hawkins is Jasmine’s adoptive and forgotten sister Ginger. Andrew Dice Clay, Bobby Cannavale, and Louis C.K. are all here too as men involved with Ginger – she seems to have a type.
More tragic drama than awkward comedy, Blue Jasmine follows the slow, uncomfortable, and tragic break down of a woman who has lost everything. Jasmine, who’s only real job has been hosting lavish parties at her mansion, wears Chanel, tips well, and remains blissfully ignorant of her husband’s elicit financial and philandering ways.
We first meet Jasmine blabbing away at a poor soul on an airplane, through the terminal, and all the way to checked baggage. With her husband jailed and money gone, Jasmine now talks to herself and pounds pills. She flies from New York City to San Francisco to take up residence with her adoptive sister Ginger, a woman accustomed to a life very different than the one Jasmine has known.
Avoiding the fish-out-of-water story, the film moves between the present and the past, detailing the great highs before the woeful lows in Jasmine’s existence, including a pivotal moment that lead to Jasmine and Ginger not talking. She and her then husband Augie, a simple brut of a man played by Andrew Dice Clay, had won big on the lotto, and took Jasmine’s advice to invest it in her husband’s company.
Both sisters try to move on from the past, but both seem to fall back into similar cycles. Both eventually meet men who aren’t that different from their exes, and while Ginger ignores the misdoings of the past, Jasmine just lies about it.
It’s a far darker Woody Allen film than one might expect. There are plenty of laughs, but most of them come from a place of discomfort. You laugh in some spots maybe hesitantly, waiting for others in the audience to join in, or waiting to see how the situation plays out. Men are instantly attracted to the stunning Jasmine, and their approaches are simultaneously silly and cringe-inducing. When one superior forces himself on Jasmine, the humour dissipates rather quickly.
Even Jasmine’s plan to learn how to use a computer in order to take an online interior decorating course is somewhat admirable while still depressing, as if she is naively traveling alone through the world in any direction. Rare moments of insight, though, suggest she is acutely aware of what is going on, but she just can’t handle it.
At its best when Blanchett is on screen – and she should be nominated come awards season – Blue Jasmine is a fascinating if not rather depressing character study with an uninspiring message, if any. Jasmine is not loathsome, just simply out of touch. So is Ginger; and just about everyone else in the film. It’s a peculiar, challenging watch.
Should You See It?
It’s intriguing, and with an arresting performance by Blanchett, it’s worth a look.
When Ginger and Augie visit New York, Jasmine’s husband Hal offers to put them up at a hotel. Ginger says that’s not necessary, and Hal responds, ‘Don’t be silly, you’re our guests.’