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Blue Jasmine– Movie Review

Submitted by on August 10, 2013 – 5:14 pmNo Comment

Blue Jasmine is one of Woody Allen’s best- and artistically most ambitious- films in recent memory (one could say “in years” if not for the delightful Midnight in Paris). Combining many of his signature themes and styles, Allen and star Cate Blanchett create a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a spoiled, self-centered Park Ave wife suddenly cut off from her wealth and family.

When we meet the middle-aged Jasmine, we learn quickly that she dropped out of college to marry an obscenely wealthy man. But she’s now moving in with her second-banana sister in a dodgy part of San Francisco. Violet tries to get back on her feet while coming to terms with a terrible truth that lies at the heart of her misfortune, which is slowly revealed in flashbacks.

(Many have noted the similarities between the film and A Streetcar Named Desire. Given the vague plot outline, the parallels are pretty clear. But thematically, they are very different works- Streetcar dealing with sex and desire, and Jasmine dealing with money, class, and the attempt to live a good life).

In Blue Jasmine, Allen brings together many of his most used recurring ideas: marriages gone awry (Match Point, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Husbands and Wives), loveletters to/satires of upperclass Manhattan and wealthy socialites (Manhattan, Hannah and Her Sisters), loveable working-class types (Small Time Crooks), and experimentation with non-linear storytelling and rapid cutaways (several of the above). All of these are combined here with a beautiful and often unpredictable mix of drama and comedy.

Blanchett is fantastic. The script and her performance humanize this vapid, self-absorbed moocher who is really much more than that. The stereotype gives way to glimpses of caring and steely determination. Though Jasmine has brought so much on herself, we still see her suffer injustices that seem completely unfair. (But should we feel sorry that she finally has to go through the repeated indignities many already suffer?)

In fact, throughout the film, characters of every class are treated with honesty and dignity. We see everyone truly, deservedly, naively happy before everything collapses, whether they are a drunken mechanic or a smooth Wall Street tycoon. Everyone shows their good intentions at some point; there’s no self-righteous joy in watching these people’s lives fall apart.

Also, Andrew Dice Clay is pretty good in this movie. Who knew? His final scene is like a bizarro inversion of his classic stage persona: he’s smoking and telling blunt truths, but it’s tender and sad. Weird.

Did you see Blue Jasmine? What did you think?



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