Blue Jasmine Reviews
For me it is Blanchett that makes this depressingly sad movie enjoyable. Blanchett is phenomenal and although her ditsy character should make you want to hate her, you can't help but feel sorry for her and feel she is slightly misunderstood!
The mental instability of the character is brilliantly portrayed by the exceptionally talented Blanchett however that's where the good points stop! Blanchett is amazing and although it is an interesting drama you can't help but feel so unsatisfied and angry about the ending. Yes it pretty much ends the way it started and yes its good that the movie didn't end with a typical happy hollywood spin but it would have been nice for some happiness in this dark and depressingly beautiful drama. There really is no light at the end of this dark tunnel !
Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) is experiencing a tumultuous change of living. Her wealthy husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) has been indicted for a Ponzi scheme that fleeced millions. Her posh New York lifestyle has vanished, Uncle Sam has frozen the assets that haven't been repossessed, and she's forced to move in with her working class sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), in San Francisco. Jasmine immediately has her complaints, mostly about the men that Ginger seems to date. She also tries adapting to a life she has been ill prepared for. Much like a domesticated animal, Jasmine's social skills and pricy tastes do not have real-world transitions into her getting a job and supporting herself. She's looking for a way to re-enter the shrine of privilege, and that it through a man of means.
Blue Jasmine is a fascinating character study of a life of self-delusion, denial, greed, and guilt, and it is a marvelous film. Allen hasn't done something this cutting, this precise in several years and it's a reminder at just how skilled the man can be at building magnetic, fully realized characters, especially women. This is a rich, complex, and juicy character for an actress of the caliber of Blanchett (Hanna) to go wild with. Jasmine is something of a modern-day Blanch DuBois with a sprinkling of Jay Gatsby; she's a woman who's become accustomed to a luxurious fantasy world that she's still striving to recreate, but she also is a woman who reinvented herself. As we learn in the opening scene, Jasmine left school without finishing her degree when Hal whisked her off her feet, to a world of privilege. She even changed her name from Jeanette to Jasmine at her husband's whim. She also became particularly adept at looking the other way when it concerned her husband's shady dealings. Surely she must have known what was happening (in the end, it's pretty clear) but as long as her illusion of wealth was maintained then it was easy to not ask questions. Why ruin a good thing, even if that good thing is built upon ruining the lives of ordinary people? Two of those people bilked of their money were Ginger and Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), which make Jasmine's complicity all the more troubling. Every line of dialogue from Jasmine needs to be studied and dissected, analyzing how buried is the real Jasmine.
Jasmine's declining mental state is also given much attention and curiosity. We are watching in full view a woman go through various stages of a nervous breakdown. She's medicating herself via booze and a cocktail of prescription drugs, but there are hints that point to something other than substances at play. She hints at undergoing electric chock therapy (does this still exist?) and she may have a touch of mental illness as well, though it's unclear. Jasmine is given to talking to herself, reciting anecdotes and patter from previous parties with the rich and fabulous. It could be a sign of madness or it could be a desperate attempt by Jasmine to zone out, to return to that former life, to relive her former glory. Personally, I've done something similar, recited old conversations out loud to myself, though usually a line or so, not to the degree of recitation that Jasmine engages in. In the opening, it's revealed that the lady she's sitting next to on the plane, who we assume she's talking with, is really just a bystander. She tells her husband she was confused because Jasmine was really just talking to herself. As Jasmine tries to get back on her feet, with delusions of grandeur about reinventing herself again, her world seems to be collapsing around her as she struggles to adapt to the real working world. A receptionist job for a dentist is beneath her as well as far too much for her to handle. She has one real sincere heart-to-heart where she lays out her true feelings, and it's to her nephews in a pizza shop with no other adult present: "There's only so many traumas a person can withstand until they take to the streets and start screaming.
An enthralling character study, but Blue Jasmine also benefits from Allen's precise plotting, folding back into flashbacks to create contrast and revelations. There is an economical finesse to Allen's writing and directing. Every scene is short and sweet and imparts key knowledge, keeping the plot moving and fresh. It also provides back-story in a manner that feels unobtrusive. Jasmine's more modest living conditions with her sister are contrasted with apartment shopping in New York City's Upper West side. The class differences between Jasmine and her sister are put on full display when Ginger and Augie visit New York. However, Allen isn't only lambasting the out-of-touch rich elite here. Few characters escape analysis. In this story, everyone is pretending to be someone else, putting on fronts, personas, to try and puff themselves up. Once living with her sophisticated sister, Ginger starts seeing her world with new eyes, mainly finding dissatisfaction and a yearning that she could do better. She meets Al (Louis C.K.) at a fancy party and gets smitten, though he's not what he seems. She dumps her current boyfriend, buying into Jasmine's theory that she "dates losers because that's what she thinks she deserves." She tries to remodel herself into a posh, inaccurate version of herself, a knockoff on Jeanette to Jasmine. It's a bad fit. The person with the most integrity in the entire film appears to be, surprise, Andrew Dice Clay's character. Augie is a straightforward blue-collar guy but he has a clear sense of right and wrong, one that comes in handy when he's able to bust people.
This is much more a dramatic character study than a typical Allen comedy of neurosis, but I want to add that there are a number of laughs to be had, mostly derisive. There is comedy but it's of a tragicomedy vibe, one where we laugh at the social absurdities of self-deluded characters and the irony of chance encounters. It's far less bubbly than Midnight in Paris, Allen's last hit, but that serves the more serious, critical tone. The class conflicts made me chuckle, as well as Jasmine's hysterical antics and self-aggrandizing, but I was so thoroughly engaged with the characters and stories to complain about a lack of sufficient yuks. Confession: I generally enjoy Allen's dramas more than his straight-up comedies.
Naturally, the movie hinges on Blanchett's performance and the Oscar-winning actress is remarkable. I expect her to be a lock for another Oscar nomination if not the front-runner until later. She fully inhabits the character and lays out every tic, every neurosis, every anxiety, and every glimmer of doubt, of delusion, of humanity. She is a fully developed character given center stage, and it's a sheer pleasure to watch Blanchett give her such life. You'll feel a mixture of emotions with the character, from intrigue, to derision, to perhaps some fraying sense of sympathy, especially as the movie comes to an end. Blanchett balances the different faces of Jasmine with startling ease; she can slip into glamorous hostess to self-pitying victim to naiveté like turning a dial. I never tired of the character and I certainly never tired of watching Blanchett on screen.
Woody Allen has been a hit-or-miss filmmaker for over a decade, and you'll have that when the man has the perseverance to write and direct a movie every freaking year. I had a pet theory that, as of late, every three years was when we really got a great Allen movie: 2005's Match Point, 2008's Vicky Cristina Barcelona, 2011's Midnight in Paris. Well now my theory has been put to rest, thank you very much, all because Allen couldn't wait one more year to deliver Blue Jasmine, a truly great film. It's a tragicomedy of entertainment, an exacting character study of a flawed, complex, deeply deluded woman as her carefully calculated world breaks down. Anchored by Blanchett's supreme performance, the movie glides along with swift acumen, doling out revelations at a steady pace and consistently giving something dishy for the actors and audience to think about. It's funny, it's sad, but more than anything Blue Jasmine is compelling as hell. This is one of Allen's best films and one I'd recommend even to non-fans of the Woodman. Give Blue Jasmine a chance and you may be surprised what you feel, for the film and the woman, both complex, engaging, and memorable.
Nate's Grade: A
Good Film but expected more! Woody Allen's finely tuned screen-writing skills and his talent for eliciting standout and often award-winning performances from his leading ladies are on full display in "Blue Jasmine." Cate Blanchett gives her best acting performance of all time. Her character changes dramatically every scene. There is a tendency in recent years to either over-praise Allen or rip him to shreds. I don't think this film deserves either fate, being an enjoyably diverting if occasionally pretentious and derivative comedy/drama. It may not belong in the pantheon of great Woody Allen movies like "Annie Hall" or "Manhattan" but it's no "Curse of the Jade Scorpion" or "Celebrity" either. If it didn't have the Woody Allen brand on it, I suspect that it would quickly come and go without notice as a fairly well-made independent drama with some nice acting that has some gripping sequences while ultimately being a little on the dull side. Because of Allen's enduring reputation, it will probably pick up an Oscar nomination or two for Blanchett's performance and for Allen's questionably "original" screenplay because Allen's name still carries cache with the taste arbiters. It had too many dull stretches and redundant exchanges for that kind of attention for my money, but its high points made me feel like there were worse ways to spend an hour and a half. Go see it if you want.
Jasmine French used to be on the top of the heap as a New York socialite, but now is returning to her estranged sister in San Francisco utterly ruined. As Jasmine struggles with her haunting memories of a privileged past bearing dark realities she ignored, she tries to recover in her present. Unfortunately, it all proves a losing battle as Jasmine's narcissistic hangups and their consequences begin to overwhelm her. In doing so, her old pretensions and new deceits begin to foul up everyone's lives, especially her own.
At times scandalously enjoyable, but fatally narcissistic, unrealistic and why-did-I-watch-this-am-I-masochistic? Few to none of those characters are believably San Franciscan! Nor would people in SF turn their heads on the street to see a woman talking to herself! Ginger and all the supporting characters besides Jasmine were cardboard, the cheap floppy kind, and everyone kept rehashing the same 3 plot bullet-points. Yes, Jasmine didn't care about Ginger, yes she thinks Chili isn't good enough for Ginger, and yes Hal was a cheat. We got that all within the first 20 minutes of the movie so when you riff on that theme for another hour, consider me riddled and bored to death. Weak, weak effort by the dialogue writer. Top 40 pop songs have more variations between their first and second choruses than some of the conversations and sentiments do in this film.
A couple of scenes were decent but really, after disliking blighted Mighty Aphrodite, it's apparent I don't care for Woody Allen.
Cate Blanchett delivers one of the finest performances of her career. Her character is both annoying and endearing, and Blanchett runs the emotional gamut in her portrayal. Also excellent is Sally Hawkins, whom I have long held a grudge against for Happy Go Lucky, a film memorable only for its awfulness.
The film is worthy of Woody. Woody Allen, a writer and director the like of whom we have not seen since Chaplin, once again produces a wonderful script, poignant in its comedy and its emotional depth. Can you name another director who not only has been working since the late sixties but who has been great since the sixties? He has received an Academy Award nomination is every decade since the seventies. The genius of this script is its unwillingness to demonize anybody. While Jasmine is surely worthy of condemnation, she's right enough times that she's better than a broken clock, which is right only twice a day. It is true that Ginger's choice in Chili is unwise, but it's also true that he loves her enough to make up for his faults. It's true that Jasmine's life of luxury is full of airs and false, but it's also true that Jasmine can work a society room with aplomb. Jasmine is not a bad person, but she's far from good. And it's in this gray area that most of us float.
Overall, Woody's women are Academy darlings, and it would surprise me if Blanchett and Hawkins didn't garner some Oscar buzz.
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I was very impressed with both the story and cast. This handles mental illness in a very real way and I liked the (strained) relationship between the sisters and how it makes you question taking people at face value.
Really well done movie which I will definitely watch again.