Woody Allen’s gotten some of his steam back and Blue Jasmine is a pretty great movie for him. It’s fun and playful and a bit tortuous. It’s got a lot of interpersonal tension between its characters that roils in a very quiet way until it ultimately explodes.
Blue Jasmine is the story of Jasmine, a New York City socialite, who’s lost everything. She was a figurative mob wife while her husband was guilty of something involving money and illegal off-shore accounts. I think there was something about a ponzi scheme, not sure. It’s not important. (Do you get it?)
Jasmine (played by Cate Blanchett) is left with nothing and is forced to move to San Francisco to live with her sister for a bit as she gets her life together. She’s teetering on the edge of a nervous breakdown as a result.
Jasmine is not a terrible person (though her personality can be abrasive) and you’re hoping the best for her. She takes up a job as a receptionist at a dentist’s office and works at learning computers so she can be self-sufficient. Her sister, meanwhile, is more of a lowly slums girl (from Jasmine’s perspective) who was screwed over by her husband’s asset management and Jasmine takes no responsibility for it.
That these are brought up passive aggressively is a testament to the writing skills of Woody Allen, but he still needs to pick his subjects better. Once again, we’re dealing with upper crust New Yorkers. Once again, we’re dealing with a story about infidelity.
Blanchett really does a number on this film, so much that I’d rival her with Amy Adams. While I think Adams would win if American Hustle were strictly about Sidney, Blanchett will win because a) she’s the focus of the film and b) her position and acting is far more obvious.
That’s not a knock at all–Blanchett absolutely nails this role in the lilt of her upper crust accent and disaffected New York hautiness. There’s one scene in particular, when Jasmine is looking for some vodka and can’t find it, that she loses her shit and shouts “Who do I have to screw to get a vodka around here” in the most visceral tone. We never see that side of Jasmine again, sadly, but it burns bright enough to leave an impression.
Her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) is the antithesis–a low down hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold who’s beginning to think about the relationships around her. Hawkins does a fantastic job with this role, fitting it quite neatly, but doesn’t provide a whole lot of depth because, again, the movie is about Jasmine and not her. When she sees Jasmine is poison for the people around her, she kicks Jasmine to the curb.
The movie is essentially about Jasmine’s dependence on the kindness of strangers and how that ends up hurting her. She eventually recedes into her personality habits and hurts the people around her. It ends with her being homeless on the streets of San Francisco.
It’s a bleak ending and one I hoped wouldn’t happen, but it was still a pretty decent movie and Blanchett really did chew the scenery in it.
Verdict: Pretty good character drama, Blanchett nails her part and will probably get an award or two, Hawkins does pretty well.