Woody Allen's latest film Blue Jasmine has been my number one film of interest after I saw its trailer two months ago. Especially after Cate Blanchett's performance was widely praised. I didn't want to actually read those rave reviews, because in fact I like to go see a film without having read too much information or opinions about it. And of course because reviews are so often packed with spoilers, that's why you will find mine after the break. This is my first attempt to write an actual review, so I hope you like it!
Blue Jasmine starts when Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), or Jeannete as she was called before she changed her name, travels from New York to San Francisco to move in with her sister. Her filthy rich husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) turned out to be a thief and a cheater and has hung himself in prison. She's babbling all about him to some lady, while sitting first class, up to the moment that she is having a taxi driver picking up her Louis Vuitton suitcases. She herself is carrying her Hermès birkin around. Jasmine gets to her sister Ginger's (Sally Hawkins) house, who turns out to be not at home. Here it is we see Jasmine's first, minor panic attack. Ginger left her key at a nearby café so Jasmine could get in though. Jasmine helps herself in, gives the taxi driver quite some tip and waits until her sister actually arrives. It has been quite some time since they last saw each other. Their worlds were (and are) miles apart really.
When Ginger comes in, she immediately questions why Jasmine had to fly to first class if she is broke. It is of course true. Her Birkin, Louis Vuitton suitcases, Chanel jackets and all of her designer accessories are probably worth tens of thousands of dollars (even secondhand) and enough to live off for quite some time. I guess money isn't exactly the problem. Of course Jasmine has lost lots of it, but it seems like it is not really what bothers her. It is something else. This film, I think, truly is about finding out what is the problem. A character study of a troubled woman, suffering from anxiety and alcoholism. What caused all this?
Jasmine is such an interesting woman. There is so many layers in her character. One moment she seems to try to build a new life of her own, although I felt like she wasn't quite sure herself too, while another she is desperately holding on to the past. Cate Blanchett is simply sublime in this role and knows to capture that duality of Jasmine's character perfectly. Her understanding of the character is best visible when Jasmine dines with her two nephews. At first she is this perfectly elegant woman who is so nice and good with children, but after the boys are asking about her husband and her anxiety she is having a nervous breakdown. Right at the end of the scene she putting it all back together and she is the elegant Park Avenue princess again. Cate's portrayal has been surrounded with Oscar buzz and I see why. If this isn't getting her that well deserved second Academy Award, what is?
Throughout the whole film the audience gets to see flashbacks of Jasmine's past. These flashbacks hint to what it is what has caused Jasmine's instability. When I left the cinema I thought it wasn't the money she had missed, nor the rich lifestyle. I thought she missed her husband. After all he had done, the cheating and all of his criminal activities, she missed her husband. And even more so, she regretted turning him in. Without her doing so, he would probably never have committed suicide. But then again, if she hadn't turn him in, she might have retained her rich lifestyle. The lifestyle she loved and the lifestyle she was so desperately trying to get back again, by lying in order to get a new man's love and attention. At the end of the film she doesn't remember the words to Blue Moon anymore. A song that comes back a several times and the song that played when Jasmine and her husband met. Does this mean she was missing her husband all along and she is now finally getting over him?
I actually like how so much is left to imagination. Furthermore the full cast is so good and everything looks so beautiful. Jasmine, with her designer clothes, looks totally out of place when she is with Ginger, her boyfriend / fiancée and just the whole world they live in. Vice versa, Ginger looks totally out of place when in flashbacks she and her ex husband Augie are visiting Jasmine and Hal in their splendid Fifth Avenue apartment and beautiful Hamptons beach house. The music is used to accentuate the lightness of the film as opposed to the dark themes lying underneath. Over all I consider this film a must-see and more than worth your time and money. Go see it!
Have you seen Blue Jasmine? I am hoping to get some reactions of you too, because I am still not sure what impacted Jasmine more, the loss of her husband or the loss of her extravagant lifestyle?