Blue Jasmine (2013): A Downward Spiral

Posted: February 9, 2014 in Comedy, Drama
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blue_jasmine_ver2Jeanette “Jasmine” Francis was once on top of the world, with her rich husband and socialite status. Following the discovery of her husband’s significant infidelity, she lashes back by contacting the feds and getting him arrested for fraud. This leads to the discovery that Hal Francis has included her identity in his illegal activities, leaving her stripped of her wealth and forcing her to travel out to San Francisco to live with her sister in a more humble environment. While she struggles initially, she meets a man at a party that sweeps her of her feet. As the two float along their blissful romance, Jasmine neglects to see the oncoming challenges with leading her new lover on and what he will do when he finds out.

Starring: Cate Blanchett (Jasmine Francis), Alec Baldwin (Hal Francis), Sally Hawkins (Ginger), Bobby Cannavale (Chili), Louis CK (Al), Andrew Dice Clay (Augie), Peter Sarsgaard (Dwight Westlake), Michael Sthulbarg (Dr. Flicker), Tammy Blanchard (Jane), Max Casella (Eddie), Alden Ehrenreich (Danny Francis)

Cate Blanchett has earned herself a lot of attention for this self-defeating, absorbed, and mentally-distracted role, as she faded in and out of awareness with her character’s obsession with what she had lost. Her personality seemed to match the jumbled organization of the film. Baldwin appeared to be charming at first but also transitioned into the conniving businessman he had preserved earlier in his character’s relationship with Blanchett. Conversely, Sarsgaard was very charming, as was Louis CK (even with his secrecy. Cannavale appeared with the most personality and matched up well with Hawkins.

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Woody Allen’s 2013 hit maintained some of the nonlinear storytelling that appears in many of his other films. Jasmine’s past was haunting her after she arrived in San Francisco. Her husbands infidelity and the dramatic loss of her high society status significantly damaged her psyche. Unable to handle the life-changing events, she continued to insult Ginger and her boyfriend, refused to give up her high-style living, and began to experience more breaks from reality. By the end of the film, she was lost, talking to herself without any realization that her will was broken. Meanwhile, Ginger suffered a similar challenge discovering that Al was married, but she was able to do something her sister was not…move on.

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The format of the movie was a little hard to follow. While it was easy enough to digest what ended up happening in the end, the presentation felt as manic as Jasmine was. There were some scenes that took a moment to determine if Jasmine was having a moment like a soliloquy or was actually losing touch with reality. Using the comparison of the high life to Ginger’s more modest means also fell a bit flat. Jasmine, Hal, and even Dwight felt unapproachable. Though Dwight was a bit more charming, each of them lacked a relatability to make their stories more intriguing. Ginger and Chili were more likable characters, but they both were too much of opposites of Jasmine to make them relatable as well.

There are a number of elements that are entertaining. Jasmine’s slow psychotic break was interesting, but Allen lacked the focus and direction necessary to make this as big of a hit in comparison to his other films.

Dan’s Rating: 2.5/5

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