Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Sally Hawkins, Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale
Jasmine (Blanchett) was a wealthy New York socialite whose husband Hal (Baldwin) was found guilty of fraud, and all her assets were stripped. She returns to San Francisco to rebuild her life with her sister Ginger (Hawkins) but her psyche is fragile and she can’t quite escape her past.
I’d heard great praise since it came out so I was glad when I finally got a chance to watch it as I normally love Allen’s films, especially his more recent ones. But Blue Jasmine didn’t quite resonate with me as much as, say, To Rome with Love or Midnight in Paris. That’s not to say it’s a bad film though. Blanchett is absolutely incredible as Jasmine, portraying a very fragile character with multiple layers of emotional problems and as unlikeable as the character was, Blanchett was able to imbue her with a sense of pitifulness as well. A great performance that gets more complex as certain truths reveal themselves throughout the film.
Jasmine seems to be caught in the void that lies between the life she had and the one that she is rebuilding, yet she can’t let go of what she lost. The theme of the film reminds of a quote from an episode of Star Trek that has always stayed with me –
‘There are a million things you can have in this world and a million things you can’t.‘
Jasmine, like many of us, chooses to focus on the latter, and rather than trying to make the best out of her current situation she always pines for the way things used to be and tries to work out a way to get her status back. This way of thinking infects those around her, but it’s a very difficult concept to sell I feel, because we’re constantly told to strive for better and pursue our dreams no matter what the cost. Jasmine of course goes too far and becomes delusional, creating her own reality, but at what point do the delusions begin?
In this way it feels bleak, because the message seems to be that we should settle for what we have. Perhaps that’s too bleak a reading, and it merely suggests that we should be aware of the good things in our lives and appreciate things even though they aren’t perfect, but I think it’s a complicated concept to distil so it’s not something that’s spoon-fed, and I’m sure a lot of people will take away something completely different from the movie.
It also lacked a certain spark that I’ve come to expect from Woody Allen’s films. So while I think it’s pretty good I can’t say that it’s a must-see.