When I heard that Woody Allen was making another movie, my curiosity was piqued. I also knew that as soon as this movie had a name, it would be added to my Watch List. I was excited to see if Allen could still draw me into one of his character’s stories as deeply and effectively as he had in the past. My relationship with Woody Allen movies is somewhat of a love-hate thing. While it’s not certain that I’ll love all his movies, I’ll certainly give something he writes / directs, a closer look. A strong reaction is always, at the very least, a thing of interest.
While I was sure I wanted to see Blue Jasmine, I wasn’t sure, my husband would want to join me. What I did know was that this movie had been out for a while and I wanted to catch it before it left theaters. I quickly made plans to watch it during the day, while everyone else was at work. Lucky for me, my BFF (who also works from home) just happed to be available, so I asked her if she wanted to come. She said she was up for the cinema and with that, we both headed out to catch an early Friday afternoon screening of Blue Jasmine.
When the world is at work, there is some seriously fabulous parking to be had. My BFF and I peeled into the lot, parked and rolled into that movie theater in record time. One small popcorn and two contraband bottled beverages later, we were in our seats and ready to be entertained. While we were settling into our seats, that was when it dawned on me. Come to think of it, I was actually embarrassed that it had slipped my mind in the first place.
It seems I’d been so focused on going to see a Woody Allen movie that I’d altogether forgotten that this film also included Cate Blanchett. I was elated at the thought. Seeing as Blanchett is one of my favorite actors and she hasn’t let me down yet, I knew I was in for a good time.
We meet Jasmine on an airplane. She’s talking ad nauseum, not so much with, but to the woman sitting next to her on this plane. Jasmine’s going on about her life, her husband, how she met her husband, her life and did I mention…her life?
It’s quite clear from scene one that Jasmine is a woman of privilege. Not only do her clothes and accent (which exudes North Eastern wealth) give it away, but also the entitlement she radiates, it seems to come as natural to her as her gait. By this point in the movie, we’ve learned that Jasmine is in San Francisco and she’ll be staying with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), for a while.
By the time Jasmine finally arrives at her sister’s typically tiny San Francisco apartment, the socioeconomic gap between these two siblings could not be more apparent. Ginger seems to resent Jasmine for what seem like obvious reasons and everything plays out alarmingly predictably during the beginning of the film. I can’t lie to you; I was worried for a moment. The moment was passing, but it was long enough to linger and make me wonder where Allen was going with Jasmine’s story. It wasn’t looking good, but in retrospect that was clearly the intent.
Turns out, Blue Jasmine is the story of an obscenely wealthy woman that has just lost every materialistic thing, person and connection she has ever had. It’s all gone. Life has just dealt her one devastating haymaker of a blow with zero apologies. And Jasmine, all she’s left with is herself. While some might find solace within themselves, Jasmine is not like that. She gets lost inside. She can’t cope inside; she’s compromised inside.
The moment the screen faded to black, I was sure. My opinion of this film was so strong it materialized in an instant. During those two beats, while the screen was dark, just as the story ended and right before the credits rolled, that’s where I found clarity.
Blanchett expertly portrays Jasmine’s inability to adjust to her new life circumstances. Her fragility surfaces as her ability to function, deteriorates majestically on screen. Blanchett is mesmerizing as Jasmine. She does not give us a glimpse into the mind of a woman on the edge of madness as expected. Instead, she paints us a painfully precise portrait of a soul lost.
My BFF said she really liked Sally Hawkins and I have to agree with her. Hawkins brings us a genuinely gracious and forgiving sister in Ginger. Unfortunately for Ginger, she’s the type of woman that tends to attract questionable characters into her life (like her mostly-absent sister). She can recognize this about herself, yet she doesn’t seem to want to muster up the courage to really change that. Hawkins successfully blends likeablity with vulnerability and comes up with a sobering version of reality.
Bobby Cannavale was a familiar face of undetermined origin, as I couldn’t place him while I was watching the movie. What I do know is he that he teetered quite artfully between passionate and threatening in his portrayal of Chili, Gina’s latest rebound boyfriend. Andrew Dice Clay brings us a surprising, honest, powerful and gripping performance. I was not expecting this. I was thoroughly surprised and elated with what Dice Clay managed to do with his role. Peter Skaarsgard also impressed, bringing a smart mixture of sketchiness and over-eager swagger. The entire supporting cast really came through and did their parts justice. Each of them was successful in adding remarkable depth to this story.
I’m going to be frank; I relished every moment of this movie. Woody Allen essentially pulled a Babe Ruth move here. He pointed to the bleachers, called out a home run for himself with this stellar casting and then proceeded to knock this one out of the proverbial park. San Francisco gets its moment to shine through Woody Allen’s eyes in Blue Jasmine and this tribute is genuinely captivating.
Some might say the story in this movie plays out rather unevenly and while I can agree, my opinion differs in that I feel as if the story played out in an appropriately disjointed presentation of anxiety and loss. In retrospect, I think that aspect of the film was intentional. Blue Jasmine is an unpleasant, but exquisitely crafted look into the life of a soul slipping into oblivion.
Blue Jasmine (2013) – A
A = Movies this good don’t happen often and If you’re going to watch something you should watch this. This is exactly what I go looking for when I go to the movies and I trust you’ll enjoy it if you keep an open mind and give it a go.