Jasmine French used to be on the top of the heap as a New York socialite, but now is returning to her estranged sister in San Francisco utterly ruined. As Jasmine struggles with her haunting memories of a privileged past bearing dark realities she ignored, she tries to recover in her present. Unfortunately, it all proves a losing battle as Jasmine's narcissistic hangups and their consequences begin to overwhelm her. In doing so, her old pretensions and new deceits begin to foul up everyone's lives, especially her own.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Woody Allen's finely tuned screen-writing skills and his talent for eliciting standout and often award-winning performances from his leading ladies are on full display in "Blue Jasmine." Alec Baldwin, the slick husband of a middle-aged socialite, Cate Blanchett, pulls a Bernie-Madoff swindle and ends up in jail. The homes, the cars, the furs, the jewels, the furniture all go to the Feds, and the penniless Cate flies first class to San Francisco with her Louis Vuitton luggage to stay with her non-biological sister, Sally Hawkins, until she gets back on her feet. Blanchett, the Jasmine of the title, is totally unprepared for her economic fall. She decides to become an interior designer, but wants to study on-line; however, she is computer illiterate and must take a course, before she can begin to study decorating; but, she needs money for the courses and takes a receptionist job with a lecherous dentist. Although the film addresses serious issues, the Allen humor will provoke smiles and an occasional chuckle, from small well-observed moments such as the attempts of indecisive patients to make dental appointments.
Understandably, Cate Blanchett's Jasmine teeters on the edge of a nervous breakdown; she lies instinctively, even to herself; and she cannot or will not face the reality of her downward mobility. The role is an actress's showcase, and Blanchett is in top form; her nervous rambling monologues, either to herself or to unwilling strangers, provide a study guide for aspiring actors. Jasmine brays at her "sister," Ginger, effortlessly and engagingly played by Hawkins; she nags about Ginger's job, lover, and living quarters, until Ginger points out Jasmine's own diminished situation. Jasmine bellows that Ginger can do better than her amorous boyfriend, Chili, a charismatic Bobby Cannavale with a bad haircut and faded tattoo; eventually, Ginger reminds her that her own choice of husband was less than stellar. Jasmine, Ginger, and Chili make an aromatic trio, whose names perhaps allude to their personalities, and they are ably supported by Louis C.K., a horny guy with the hots for Ginger, and Peter Sarsgaard, a respectable diplomat seeking a suitable wife for his political career.
In keeping with the film's title, Woody uses blues on the soundtrack, and his cinematographer, Javier Aguirresrobe, lenses the dual New York and San Francisco locales effectively. Although the jump cuts in time are jarring initially, viewers will quickly accommodate to New York being the past and San Francisco the present. Woody at age 78 is a master writer, especially of women's characters, and "Blue Jasmine" finds him at his best. Although Woody's trademark humor flickers throughout, the film is essentially about a vulnerable woman standing amidst the ruins of her former life and facing a precariously uncertain future. Audiences may come out praising the performers, but humming the blues.
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