By Andrew Bevevino
Riches, elegance, luxury, laughs, irony, tragedy, and mental instability. Think this is too much for one movie? Think again. These elements, and many, many more, combine to craft the hopelessly tragic and wickedly humorous Blue Jasmine.
The story unravels around a delicate, young woman named Jasmine and her fall from the New York City socialite lifestyle. Jasmine, played by actress Cate Blanchett, was married to a filthy rich businessman named Hal, played by Alec Baldwin. Jasmine’s marriage implodes, leaving her with nowhere to live and, more importantly, no money to spend.
Forced to live with her less-privileged sister, Ginger, in San Francisco, Jasmine finds it nearly impossible to leave behind her life of glamor and excess. Accustomed to wearing ridiculous diamond rings and carrying Louis Vuitton luggage, this spoiled brat has never worked a day in her life. The plot centers on Jasmine’s search to find a substantial job, a wealthy husband and a luxurious lifestyle.
Jasmine is a mega-dynamic character. The movie flashes back to periods of her earlier life, showing her when she was happy, satisfied, and emotionally stable. However, the reality of the story is that Jasmine becomes a psycho, pill-popping, alcoholic loser. Jasmine morphs into a lie breathing slacker who makes herself physically numb to deal with her issues. Nearly every scene shows her throwing back a stiff glass of vodka or popping a few Xanax. Truly, she has no idea how to cope with her problems. As a result, she’s disagreeable.
Though Jasmine has an eye for fancy clothing, the only thing she should be wearing is a strait jacket. Throughout the film, Jasmine has mental episodes where she mutters to herself like a shell-shocked psychopath. Eyes bulging and face damp with sweat, Jasmine appears to be insane. She even flashes bits of extreme anger and rage. I wasn’t sure if her failure to pull her life together was because of her incompetence or because of her mental illness.
As Jasmine, Cate Blanchett flexes her thespian muscle, pulling off an unreal performance. Blanchett was elegantly airheaded, portraying Jasmine as haughty, patronizing, and delicate. Blanchett’s tone and mannerisms were that of a well-to-do and well-off middle-aged woman, making her role as Jasmine as authentic as it could be.
But Blanchette was much more than a wealthy socialite. She played the role of a money-deprived crazy lady almost flawlessly. Her fury filled eyes and violent tone during her mental breakdowns left me stunned. On top of a well written, well directed film, Cate Blanchett provides a knockout performance.
The legendary Woody Allen wrote and directed Blue Jasmine. With this film, he really outdid himself. The movie, though with sad and heavy themes, had some brilliant aspects of humor. Ginger provides some comic relief with her laid back, go-with-the-flow personality, and Jasmine’s inability to function in middle-class society was spun as humorous at times. Of course, the appearance of actor and comedian Louis C.K. made for some laughable moments. It was nice to smile a bit through this story of a collapsed life.
Despite the comedic elements, the tones of hopelessness in this film are overwhelming. Nearly every character has extreme personality flaws, ranging from constant dishonesty to serious disloyalty. It’s tough to find one redeeming quality in Jasmine. Even Louis C.K. (my very favorite comedian) turns out to be a jackass. Going through the list of characters, every single one has a crippling character trait keeping them from living complete and happy lives. Projecting a forlorn version of humanity, Allen makes me resent almost everyone in Blue Jasmine.
The juxtaposition of Jasmine’s previous affluent, upscale life with her current life of modesty and moderation was nicely executed. Cutting between the past and present, Allen provided a full view of the story. I wasn’t asking myself any questions and I couldn’t find any plot holes. Artistically, it was also brilliant. The movie flashes back and forth between extravagant sets on beachside cottages and Park Avenue apartments to industrial shots of downtown San Francisco. This depiction of Jasmine’s fall from grace completed the movie as a masterpiece.
Blue Jasmine is an amazing film full of emotion, humor, and sadness. Blanchett is an absolute super-power, driving this Woody Allen gem with her incredible performance. If you want a full and fantastic movie experience, go see Blue Jasmine. I really can’t recommend it enough.
Out of 5 stars, Blue Jasmine gets 4.5