Blue Jasmine

Directed by Woody Allen

Starring Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., Peter Sarsgaard
In UK Cinemas September 27th, 2013

by Joanna Orland

Finally Woody Allen has once again made a Woody Allen film.  Blue Jasmine could have been made in Allen’s heyday as it’s a sharp-witted drama about a New York woman and her fragile mental state as she arrives in San Francisco to stay with her sister.  She’s on a cocktail of anti-depressants and vodka, as she deals with the fact that she is no longer an aristocrat and needs to learn how to fend for herself in the real world.  This woman is Jasmine, played brilliantly by Cate Blanchett.

The audience immediately gets the idea of what Jasmine’s character is like – self-entitled, neurotic, anxious, snobbish and unable to fend for herself.  Her arrival in San Francisco for her stay with her sister Ginger further devulges into Jasmine’s character as we see through a series of flashbacks her strained relationship with Ginger, her high class criminal husband who regularly practiced infidelity, her ability to look the other way, and eventually her decline to where she is in present day.

Jasmine’s main flaw isn’t that she can’t take care of herself, but it’s that she derives worth from the way others’ perceive her.  She also believes this is how her sister should derive worth and is disgusted by her sister’s life choices.  While she gets her value from others’ perceptions, she is blind to what is actually going on around her.  In spite of all of her flaws and obnoxious behaviour, Blanchett’s Jasmine earns our empathy as she is the unwitting instrument of her own downfall.

While Midnight in Paris was a brilliantly charming film, it isn’t a proper “Woody Allen film”.  Vicky Cristina Barcelona was also great, but lacks that original Allen quality.  Match Point and Melinda Melinda aren’t even worth a mention.  Blue Jasmine is that perfect Allen balance of sad comedy and drama.  You could imagine Blanchett’s Jasmine being played by Mia Farrow back in her and Allen’s golen era, but due to its current relevance, this story is nothing but modern.  Jasmine’s story was clearly inspired by the Bernie Madoff scandal as her husband is characterized as a wall street criminal robbing poor innocent poeple, including Ginger, of their money.  But overall, it’s not about that, it’s about Jasmine and just how blue she is with her depression.

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