August 12, 2013


“Blue Jasmine” is a worth-seeing Woody Allen film. It's a funny, enjoyable story of a woman in denial. There is a fair amount of lying, stealing and cheating going on by and around our main character, Jasmine (if Cate Blanchette doesn’t get an Oscar, shame on the Academy), but—as a review in “America” magazine ventured: the film is about what happens when we refuse to look at the source of our deepest desires.

“Blue Jasmine” is a typical Woody Allen film in that it’s a drama, deeply moral, mostly dialogue, dialogue-as-action, dialogue-as-contact-sport, dialogue-as-though-everybody-is-Jewish, lots of ad-libbing and exceedingly genuine banter.

After getting started with bumpy, heavy-handed, talky-talky exposition, the film begins to flow nicely. Jasmine was married to Hal (the always excellent Alec Baldwin), a Madoff-like fraudulent New York financier, until it all fell apart and she was forced to go live with her blue-collar sister, Ginger (the always interesting, always-adorbs-but-not-saccharine Sally Hawkins), in San Francisco. Jasmine’s former life suited her perfectly, but it was also a lie and the truth quite literally shattered her.

The incredibly prolific Woody Allen has an uncanny sense of how both men and women think and react. He “knows human nature” even though he struggles with God. (God is not a character in this particular film beyond His images running around.) Allen could have written a chick flick here, but he did not, and can a man, really? I’m just fascinated by Allen’s ability to penetrate female (and male) brains.

I do not consider myself an Allen or Blanchett fan, but this film is a marvelous clicking of the two of them. Blanchett never breaks character. She is consistently hilarious as the high society, social climbing woman trapped in a “plugger’s” existence. Her effete vocabulary and manners would be considered affected, but because she has bought so deeply into this world (and has lived it so long), it really IS her, now, and she does it so well.

Jasmine’s presence upsets Ginger and her boyfriend’s (the always exciting Bobby Cannavale) plans. New male/female alliances are made, but all the while we are watching flashbacks to Jasmine’s fairytale life, and learning more about exactly what Jasmine knew or didn’t know about Hal’s shams and scams.

Not a Hollywood ending. Good on you, Mr. Allen.

SPOILER ALERT: Jasmine could endure (and enjoy) many things from Hal, but not infidelity. Faithful love, I believe, is the one thing Jasmine REALLY wanted and could NOT live without, could not look the other way over, no matter how materialistic she was. She was willing to lose it all and even destroy herself in the process, because “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”

It is just terribly intriguing that Woody Allen himself left Mia Farrow for a teenage girl.


--THEOLOGY OF THE BODY? Allen is from a generation that knows men and women are different. And how they are different. His women are strong, but in a Woody Allen way.

--Is Allen kind to his characters? He leaves them free, they are flawed, and there is a certain amount of forgiveness for them.

--Fantasy cast. Dream cast.

--Allen uses two known-for-foulmouthedness comedians as regular Joes: Andrew Dice Clay and Louis C. K. They are clean as a whistle and act quite well.

--Excellent transitioning to and from flashbacks. Just excellent. Flashbacks are well-placed and we just jump right into them and know THAT they’re flashbacks and exactly when they start and end. Not an easy feat, that.

--Jasmine is accused of being a “phony.” Many times.

--What am I in denial about?

--What am I a phony about?

--Great typical 20’s/30’s Allen soundtrack.

--Jasmine talks to herself OUT LOUD. Uh-oh.

--“Not everyone can just ‘put things behind them’ as easily as you, Jasmine.”

--I feel bad for Jasmine. Sort of.