2013, Sony Pictures Classics/Gravier Productions/Perdido
Cate Blanchett (Jasmine)
Sally Hawkins (Ginger)
Bobby Cannavale (Chili)
Andrew Dice Clay (Augie)
Alec Baldwin (Hal)
Peter Sarsgaard (Dwight)
Louis C.K. (Al)
Alden Ehrenreich (Danny)
Max Casella (Eddie)
Daniel Jenks (Matthew)
Max Rutherford (Johnny)
Woody Allen’s film about a woman’s chance to start over starts off and moves very smoothly, but ultimately comes up with a truly French New Wave-style ending that makes one wonder what is in the famed auteur’s head.
Jasmine was once one of New York’s top socialites who had never had to so much lift a finger due to her marriage to real estate mogul Hal Francis. However, when she lost it all, she decided to head to San Francisco to live with her sister Ginger in hopes to start her life over. Jasmine learns the hard way that life on the other side is truly not as easy as she had ever considered.
Ginger has been divorced from her husband Augie, who blames Hal and Jasmine for practically ruining their lives which in turn, ultimately destroyed their marriage. Ginger’s new boyfriend Chili, has the issue of being compulsive when he drinks too much. As for Jasmine, she attempts to go to classes and finds a job as a receptionist for a dentist. However, she still yearns to live the high life she was accustomed to. As flashbacks reveal how Jasmine’s world in New York came to unravel, the once toast of the town now must tend to do what she can to truly make a better life for herself.
Woody Allen is quite an interesting filmmaker who tends to delve in realism through his characters. For his 2013 film, the focus is on the total unraveling and potential redemption of the titular character Jasmine. Cate Blanchett drives the film with her raving performance as the one-time socialite whose world comes crashing down in front of her (in more ways than one) and her attempt at redemption for herself. Jasmine is someone who is very opinionated and thinks she knows what is best. However, it is clear with some of her decisions that it gave the opposite effect and it yields negative results.
Allen uses a smooth juxtapositioning of present day and flashbacks as Jasmine’s given clues or words that will remind her of her past. The flashbacks range from her high life with husband Hal, played well by Alec Baldwin to the complete unraveling of how she ultimately lost it all, which in turn forces her move to San Francisco. In a scene that could be described as both disturbing and somewhat funny, Jasmine tells her young nephews partly about the issues she faced in New York and how it changed her in a negative way before stopping herself.
The ensemble cast joining Blanchett works well here as the movie has a subplot featuring Jasmine’s sister Ginger, who is dealing with love issues of her own. One used to think of Andrew Dice Clay as just another foul-mouthed comedian who’s way past his expiration date. However, when necessary, Clay can actually stretch his acting muscles as proven in the climax of the 80’s comedy Casual Sex? and with this film, as Ginger’s embittered ex-husband, who holds a grudge with Jasmine and Hal. Bobby Cannavale has a tendency to play “scuzzy” kinds of characters from time to time and here as Chili, Ginger’s current boyfriend, he tends to be borderline obsessive at times, providing in one scene, a very scary moment. However, one can’t help but laugh when he bawls in the middle of Ginger’s workplace as a way to apologize for his actions. The third act features Peter Sarsgaard and comedian Louis CK in a somewhat pivotal role and extended cameo respectively, but they prove to be important overall in the film.
Blue Jasmine is a pretty good Woody Allen film but the final scene is quite a letdown because it just comes out of nowhere and not in a “what the heck” moment but more of a “did the movie really just end like that” moment.
WFG RATING: B