Jasmine (I) (2015)
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We enter the story a year after her death. The film establishes Leonard's fragile and distressed state through a cleverly paced introduction to his daily life. We immediately become acquainted to the true nature of Leonard's condition as we follow him through his lamented and obsessive fixation. We discover Leonard spends much of his time in solitude. We follow him all over the city, visiting places his wife had once been, leaving white flowers in their place. He makes recurring calls to the police department, inquiring if they made any further progress on solving her murder. He also attends a support group made up of people who have also lost their spouses. Suffice to say his obsession is his top priority and dominates every aspect of his life.
The first half of the film gives us a lot of breathing room for us to fully grasp the emotional degradation Leonard is trapped in. And the film accomplishes this through very little dialogue. Much of what we learn about Leonard is through his actions on screen. Since a lot of what's pulling the film forward is largely visual, sound is absolutely imperative, and that's to be expected. This was the area I was most impressed with the film. The sound design was very well done and assisted greatly in telling the story as much as the visual aspect. It was mellow when it needed to be and built up at the right times to create a great sense of tension. And tension is a large part of Acts two and three.
Upon visiting his wife's grave, Leonard catches a glimpse of a man who is also there to visit her grave. Later on, he sees the same man at the location of her death. This prompts Leonard to chase the man from the area, and finally gives him a lead to solving his wife's murder. Without going into too much detail, the story proceeds from there. Leonard assumes the role of detective to find out just who this man is, and discover his involvement in his wife's death.
I found it interesting that Leonard has both the characteristics of an active and passive character. He's active in the sense that he's so determined and he takes it upon himself to discover who murdered his wife, yet he is also very passive in the sense that he is very withdrawn and detached from society. Although he is obsessive, he seems to be aware of his condition. There are parts of the film where he goes out of his way to engage himself in conversation with strangers in the hopes to reconnect with people.
The film has a certain quiet and enigmatic quality to it, but all the while you can feel the tension building, not know where exactly it's going to lead. The result is an enjoyable plot twist and an interesting perspective into Leonard's mind. And although I left wishing the plot twist provided some further background history or explanation that led to its occurrence, I certainly admired the ambiguity and the space it left open to let me think up my own answers. Suffice to say that the ending pays off and gives way to multiple viewings.
I quite enjoyed Jasmine. It has a lot to offer across the board. The story is gripping and mysterious. The sound and score are great, and the cinematography is appropriately cold and gloomy, creating the ideal atmosphere and environment for a character with such a chilling story; and in general a very pleasing film to look at. I have yet to view it again on another occasion but I'm positive there will be plenty more to notice an pick up on the second time around. And I'm definitely looking forward to seeing it again.