Woody Allen (although through genuine sadness), once again tells a story from the basis of a joke, to which Cate Blanchett’s Jasmine is unaware of; “At a cocktail party, one woman said to another, ‘Aren’t you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger?’ The other replied, ‘Yes, I am, I married the wrong man.” The joke is concise, the punch line effective, yet why aren’t we laughing? My review of Blue Jasmine after the jump.
Jasmine (Blanchett) has fallen on hard times, from being incredibly rich and extravagant to losing everything in an instant. Her only option in terms of residence and some form of moral support? Her step sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins) who never really heard from Jasmine, until now when her bank account is empty. Despite their history, she still offers Jasmine her services. Jasmine, whilst being poor, also has to live with the shame and judgement passed on to her by her husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin). He wasn’t necessarily who many believed him to be, and the fallout hits Jasmine, who is yet to adjust to her “downgraded conditions”. So now she needs a job, a friends, and a direction, all of which she’s attempting to obtain with great difficulty. Ginger, however, almost subconsciously models her expectations to Jasmine’s since her arrival, causing her life to change dramatically in the course of Jasmine’s visit. It’s further into Jasmine’s odyssey of restoration and respect that things only become worse. Memories of what her life once was begin to appear in excessive form and her perception of who she once was now is jeopardized severely. Why is she constantly judged? Why can’t she co-exist with everyone else around her despite the severe change of habitat and living conditions? Questions only Jasmine can and should answer, yet much like the joke above, she’s barely aware a question is even being asked.
There are many literary comparisons that could be made to Blue Jasmine, one in particular that if it were to be mentioned would spoil the entire story and the direction in which Jasmine’s tale follows. But let it be clear, despite Woody Allen’s more recent endeavors, Blue Jasmine is not one that surrenders to genre conventions nor categorisation. It could be said of Blue Jasmine that it’s one of the saddest films of the year or one of the funniest and both wouldn’t be wrong or considered ludicrous. Jasmine’s story is an unpredictable one and not at times one that’s easy to endure. Allen’s versatility as a storyteller is encapsulated with Blue Jasmine. What can be perceived by one as funny can also be envisioned as equally heartbreaking to another. Their resemblance to life makes it all the more astounding. To put it simply, he never has lost his genuine affection for people and the situations they find themselves in, relationships or otherwise.
The unfortunate thing with the word of mouth spreading for Blue Jasmine at the moment isn’t that it’s positive, it’s the constant reference to “Oscars”, in particular for Blachett’s performance. She is always fantastic but she truly does put in the greatest of efforts, but don’t see Blue Jasmine with Oscars in mind. See it for everyone’s fantastic performances, even with Blanchett at the top of the list there’s wonderful, effort heavy performances from Sally Hawkins, Louis C.K, Alec Baldwin, Peter Saarsgard and believe it or not Andrew Dice Clay, the foul-mouthed comedian from the 90’s brings in an utterly convincing and effective performance in what needs to be seen together believed. Just try forgetting him shouting obscenities to a crowd in a leather jacket. The narrative which is built surrounding these desperate characters and their decisions is what should be bringing audiences in. Don’t let the word ‘Oscar’ encourage you, the film is far better than that.
Blue Jasmine is the ultimate tale of appearances, perceptions, expectations and judgement and how one bad decision encompasses one’s worth to the very people who defined and assessed it. Blue Jasmine dances the fine line between sweet and heartbreaking then puts forth the notion if there was ever a difference between the two in the first place.
By Chris Elema
Director: Woody Allen
Writer(s): Woody Allen
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Sally Hawkins
Runtime: 98 minutes
Release date(s): Australia: September 12 2013