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Saturday, August 03, 2013

Sean Kelly

My Thoughts on Blue Jasmine

BlueJasmine

Woody Allen returns with a new dramedy about a woman trying to recover from a crisis in her life.  Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) is a former New York socialite, who underwent a nervous breakdown after losing everything, due to her wealthy husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) getting arrested for fraud.  In an attempt to rebuilt her life, Jasmine moves to San Francisco and stays with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins). 

Even though Jasmine and Ginger seem to get along, Ginger’s ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) holds a grudge against Jasmine for her apparent part in Hal stealing 200,000 in lottery winnings, in a fraudulent investment, effectively ruining Ginger and Augie’s life aspirations.  After years of living with everything provided for her, Jasmine finds it quite difficult to adapt to a normal life and yearns for a life like the one taken from her, which she constantly relives in her head.

Blue Jasmine starts off feeling like a typical Woody Allen comedy, however it quickly becomes apparent that the film tackles some quite serious themes.  You don’t really think twice at the start of the film when Jasmine is introduced telling her life story to a fellow passenger on her flight to San Francisco and you will likely just laugh when the passenger meets her husband at the airport and complains about the crazy woman she was sitting with.  However, only a few minutes later, Jasmine begins having a panic attack when her sister doesn’t immediately answer the door.  Jasmine is also constantly seen drinking and taking Zantac.  It is very apparent that something quite traumatic happened to Jasmine and left her somewhat mentally ill.  Exactly what happened to her is slowly revealed throughout the film and its many flashback.

Even though he is technically the male lead of the film, Alec Baldwin’s Hal is seen entirely through Jasmine’s flashbacks and his character is long out of the picture in the present day.  The question asked for much of the film is whether or not Jasmine knew that Hal was a criminal and just turned a blind eye to his actions.  Indeed, much of Jasmine’s flashbacks to Hal seems to be more about her wondering how faithful Hal was during their marriage.  In fact, there is one scene played for laughs, in which Hal is seen obviously hitting on someone, with Jasmine seemingly oblivious to the hidden meanings.

I have to give praise towards Cate Blanchett’s performance in the film, especially in how her character becomes progressively more unwired as the film progresses.  There is a section of the film, where Jasmine is trying to pursue a new suitor named Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), however it is very obvious that the she is merely trying to find a new Hal.  The film also has standout performances by Bobby Cannavale, as Ginger’s fiancé Chili, and Andrew Dice Clay, who is quite sympathetic as Augie.  The film also features appearance by Michael Stuhlbarg and Louis C.K.

Overall, I have to say that Blue Jasmine could quite possibly end up being another modern day classic for Woody Allen, after the big success he had a couple years ago with Midnight in Paris.  Even though much of the film is played for laughs, there is the constant serious undertone of Jasmine being stuck in a fantasy life that she may never escape from.

10 | LOVED IT  

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).