Starring: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins
Genre: Comedy/Drama/Woody Allen film
Thanks to her financially corrupt and cheating husband (Baldwin), socialite Jasmine French (Blanchett) used to have all the wealth and status she could ever desire. Now having left her husband she moves in with her working class sister Ginger (Hawkins) in San Franciso to start a new life. However, bearing deep emotional scares and deep mental instability, her naturally narcissistic and embittered personality not only consumes her, but the lives of those around her.
Everyone brush up on your Dostoevsky, it is Woody Allen’s latest! The one film a year man has had a bit of an apparent renaissance recently, but with Blue Jasmine has in my view produced a film that is his best work for a very long time (I thought Vicky Christina Barcelona was quite average). This has all the usual elements of A Woody Allen film such as the soundtrack, the cast list in alphabetical order and all his usual themes of misery brought on by the apparent human condition. It is a melancholic comedy-drama that could have easily gone wrong and shot itself in the foot, but yet with a great cast and some very sharp dialogue works an absolute treat. It is an extremely watchable and engaging film that within its themes and story contains many darker fundamentals of the human personality that everyone will find varying elements of depressingly familiar.
Though depressingly familiar, these make what should be an extremely unlikeable protagonist endearing and sympathetic. Allen’s decision to go for a back-and-forth narrative structure only serves to enhance the power of Jasmine’s tortuous memories and experiences. As we follow her current story in San Francisco, revelations of her former New York life often provide explanations (but not necessarily justifications) of her actions and produce in my view a very satisfying and appropriate ending. As Jasmine’s lies pile up and her mental state gets increasingly fragile we all know what the consequences will be, but it is all handled in a way that avoids simple cliché.
Though with the usual serious undertones, there is always an element of humour as we follow our tragic and self destructive protagonist (a combination that is extremely hard to balance, but yet Allen and Blanchett manage it with aplomb). Blanchett herself will without doubt get an Oscar nomination, if not win for her committed and exceptional portrayal of Jasmine. Sally Hawkins is also outstanding as Jasmine’s sister Ginger, and Bobby Cannavale is excellent and endearing as Ginger’s good natured fiancé who is also more than happy to tell Jasmine the truth of what kind of a person she really is.
Blue Jasmine manages to balance perfectly drama, subtle humour and familiar character traits in what is a consistently engaging, always watchable and emotionally satisfying drama.