Plot summary (from the studio): After everything in her life falls to pieces, including her marriage to wealthy businessman Hal (Alec Baldwin), elegant New York socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) moves into her sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) modest apartment in San Francisco to try to pull herself back together again.
Jasmine arrives in San Francisco in a fragile mental state, her head reeling from the cocktail of anti-depressants she’s on. While still able to project her aristocratic bearing, Jasmine is emotionally precarious and lacks any practical ability to support herself. She disapproves of Ginger’s boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale), who she considers another “loser” like Ginger’s ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay). Ginger, recognizing but not fully understanding her sister’s psychological instability, suggests that she pursue interior design, a career she correctly intuits that Jasmine won’t feel is beneath her. In the meantime, Jasmine begrudgingly accepts work as the receptionist in a dentist’s office, where she attracts the unwanted attentions of her boss, Dr. Flicker (Michael Stuhlbarg).
Feeling that her sister might be right about her poor taste in men, Ginger starts seeing Al (Louis C.K.), a sound engineer whom she considers as a step up from Chili. Jasmine sees a potential lifeline when she meets Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), a diplomat who is quickly smitten with her beauty, sophistication and style.
Jasmine’s flaw is that she derives her worth from the way she’s perceived by others, while she herself is blind to what is going around her. Delicately portrayed by a regal Cate Blanchett, Jasmine earns our compassion because she is the unwitting instrument of her own downfall. Woody Allen’s new drama BLUE JASMINE is about the dire consequences that can result when people avert their eyes from reality and the truth they don’t want to see.
Warning: Spoilers below!
- Cate Blanchett’s performance was amazing. I didn’t particularly like this movie, but I found myself compelled to watch until the end. Only after the credits started rolling did I realize that it was Blanchett that kept me coming back for more.
- Sally Hawkins was pretty damn good, too. Off the top of my head I can’t think of any other films she’s been in (probably a ton of supporting roles), but I’ll probably know her instantly from now on.
- Some of the real estate locations chosen for this film were amazing. I definitely fell in love with Dwight’s SF place, for instance, and could easily imagine myself living there!
- I hated Chili, and it was all because of the casting! Bobby Cannavale was so greasy and disgusting in this, especially with his bangs continually falling into his eyes. God, I’m sure that was a deliberate choice on the part of the director/actor/makeup artists, etc. but it was so gross and annoying that I couldn’t stand to watch him.
- I am not a fan of ambiguous endings, even for “slice of life” films that portray a specific period of time like this. I wanted to know what Jasmine was going to do. As it was, she’d lost her job, boyfriend (Dwight), and presumably her place to live, as it seemed Ginger was going for broke with Chili. So what was next? Was she going to hang out on park benches talking to herself and scaring away others? Would she be institutionalized? Would she be able to hold it together long enough to score another rich husband? Inquiring minds want to know!
- I hate that Jasmine was portrayed as the stereotypical know-nothing society wife. Why was she the last to know that her husband was cheating with every woman in his orbit? Come on, nobody is that trusting or naive these days!
I’m not a Woody Allen fan or anything, so I don’t know how Blue Jasmine ranks among his other films. I’ve liked a couple in the past (Match Point and Vicky Christina Barcelona come to mind), but this one didn’t feel quite the same. While it has its merits, it was pretty slow going despite being only 98 minutes long. I doubt I’ll ever watch it again. I give the film 3 stars out of 5.