Stuck Between Stations: BLUE JASMINE

blue-jasmine-cate-blanchett-glass-in-hand-woody-allen-film

As protagonists in Woody Allen films go, Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) has to be one of the least likable. A New York socialite stripped of her wealth after the arrest of her Bernie Madoff-esque husband (Alec Baldwin), she scurries off to San Francisco to live with her working-class sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins). Upon arriving at her new digs, she sashays around in a perpetual, deeply affected stupor, criticizing everything about Ginger’s life, from her modest apartment (shabby but still chic enough for an Allen film) to her greaseball boyfriend named Chili (Bobby Cannavale)—yes, Chili. Jasmine serves as a prototypical fish out of water (and, as many have noted, a faint gloss on Blanche DuBois from A Streetcar Named Desire)–she’s a ripe, deserving candidate for a comeuppance.

Fortunately, BLUE JASMINE isn’t always that simplistic. Although Allen continually lets slip how out of touch he is with the real world (Jasmine taking a computer course? In 2013?), his examination of class and identity is one of his more compelling recent themes. Through Jasmine, he seems to ask if someone like her is truly capable of reinvention or prone to the same old destructive patterns due to her own hubris. Blanchett’s performance is a breathless tour de force because, with great care, she presents Jasmine as a woman who is constantly straddling these two poles, trying to adjust to her new surroundings and move on with her life but incapable of ignoring how her life has changed and what she’s lost. As Allen gradually reveals more about her past, our perception of her also changes significantly. At the end I didn’t know whether to pity Jasmine or feel vindicated by her many losses. At its best, BLUE JASMINE could almost be a pitch-black comedy if it wasn’t ultimately so sad.  Grade: B+

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2 Responses to Stuck Between Stations: BLUE JASMINE

  1. I’ve never been a huge fan of Woody Allen films, but everyone keeps saying how it might be the first Oscar contender of the year. Maybe I’ll just have to give it a try

  2. I really disliked her, but pitied her too. Cate Blanchett’s performance was quite brilliant.

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