Woody Allen’s newest film “Blue Jasmine” follows the life of a woman who falls hard from a posh New York lifestyle to a humble life in San Francisco with her sister.
Jasmine (or rather Jeanette–she has changed her name to seem more mysterious and/or alluring, it’s not totally made clear) is spoiled rotten by her financial minded husband Hal (Alec Baldwin). Of course, Hal is a crook–investing other people’s money in bad deals and eventually is caught and imprisoned. Shortly thereafter, Hal commits suicide in jail. His wife, played by Cate Blanchett, is left with nothing. Or so she says. She somehow manages to fly first class to San Francisco to move in with her sister, Ginger.
Ginger (Sally Hawkins) is divorced with two kids and lives a life not only less interesting than her sister’s, but Jasmine may say less worthy. Jasmine has many problems adjusting to her new life but the thought of working a middle class job seems to bother her more than the fact that her husband is dead. On top of being insulted when friends try to get her a job as a secretary, she constantly berates Ginger on her choice in men, although Ginger has found someone she really loves and wants to marry. Jasmine never embraces her new life in San Fran and seems repulsed by the locals–hard working, a bit rough around the edges kind-of-guys.
My reaction to Jasmine was mixed. At times, I felt bad for her and wanted to see her succeed and evolve. Other times, I despised her and found her selfishness disturbing. In a way, I felt like I was walking in Ginger’s shoes. This film is just as much a story about their relationship as it is about Jasmine. It is evident the sisters don’t see each other often and Ginger has opened her home to her sister. While watching the movie, you’ll see that Ginger had every right to turn her back on her sister but she doesn’t. Throughout Jasmine’s stay, Ginger seems to find herself in ways Jasmine never could. Without her wealth, Jasmine is lost. Depressed doesn’t even begin to describe her.
As far as performances go, Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins knock this out of the ballpark. Blanchett has to spend most of the film drinking or crying or both and Hawkins (an English born actress) puts on a thick almost Jersey style accent and is the perfect partner for Blanchett. The two have a dynamic sibling on-camera chemistry that makes their character’s and their storyline real.
With appearances by Andrew Dice Clay and Peter Sarsgaard, “Blue Jasmine” has an extremely talented cast. There’s no doubt this is Allen’s take on a Bernie Madoff type of situation? Is Jamsine supposed to be Ruth Madoff? We may never know but this film, as other Allen filmes, leaves you perplexed and ruminating the characters for days afterward.