Monday, August 12, 2013

Blue Jasmine (Seriously Blue. And Also Crazy.)

Had a "me party" yesterday and went into Philly to see such sites as the Philadelphia Art Museum, Ultimo Coffee's new coffee shop on Catharine St, The Continental, and (of course) The Ritz 5 movie theater, where I saw Woody Allen's latest Blue Jasmine.*

May I firstly say that I love Woody Allen as a director? The jazz music, the black and white 20's style intertitles and alphabetical credits, the funny/tragic realistic characters--you had me at Small Time Crooks. He is truly a craftsman and I tend to love everything that he puts out. Even To Rome With Love, haters. (Although, as a side note, I frequently ignore all of his 80s-90s films that include Mia Farrow as a headliner. Except for Hannah and Her Sisters.) I kind of pre-loved Blue Jasmine right after I saw the trailer. So let's get to it.

Jasmine (née Jeanette) has just moved in with her sister. She has just suffered a nervous breakdown following her husband (Alec Baldwin) being charged with fraud and subsequent prison suicide. After a life of luxury (Actual luxury. Like five houses and a personal jet.) she is staying at her sister's lower-middle class apartment and trying to figure out her life. But Jasmine has never had to do this before. She states more than once throughout the movie that Hal, her husband, swept her off her feet before she could graduate from college.  Resultantly she doesn't have any life skills. And has never had to be a real adult.

Pre-real life. Like an episode of Downton Abbey.

After a friend of Ginger's finds her a job as a receptionist at a dental office, Jasmine begins taking computer classes with the dream of eventually getting a degree in interior decorating online. But when one thing after another happens at the dentist's office, she quits and approaches a WASPy friend with the question "Do you know any men?" The rest of the movie is spent with her quitting everything to become a rich man's girlfriend, lying to him about her past and masquerading as a qualified interior decorator, which (predictably) doesn't end well. Her story is also cut up with vignettes from her past life, hosting parties, telling friends how she and her husband met, talking to their adopted son, listening in on deals that her husband was making, etc.

This movie was fascinating for a number of reasons. In some ways it reminded me of The Queen of Versailles, the real life tale of the Segiel family and their fall after the recession. But Jasmine, in a lot of ways, is so much more pathetic. Here we have a look at the inability of the rich to function in lower-middle class life. Relying on the increasingly imaginary "American Dream," Jasmine originally plans to pull herself up by her bootstraps and go back to school. However, faced with the harsh reality that school costs money, she then realizes that she has to fund it by getting a job appropriate to her resume (which is presumably blank).

Don't we look ravishing today.

After becoming uncomfortable with things at her menial job, she moves onto the only thing that she knows how to do: relying on a man. And this method of survival, which is pretty archaic in this day and age, does not end up panning out. We see her struggle through her life in denial of her surroundings and acting a bit like lost child looking for her mom. Or, rather, a lost wife looking for her husband.

By contrast, her sister Ginger is totally happy being a member of the lower-middle class. She bags groceries, she has two nice kids, and a boyfriend who is a mechanic. When Jasmine comes in like a tornado of judgement, though, Ginger starts to falter and question her romantic and lifestyle choices. It's a hard road back to reality for Ginger, but she gets her happy ending. Jasmine not so much.

It's ok though. She's got her vodka.

This movie seems to be making an interesting commentary about women's options today. Whereas in the 80s women may have been excellent trophy wives, it seems to be less and less acceptable for a woman to function today without an actual function. Even stay-at-home moms do more than Jasmine does. And while she's not a bad person, she doesn't seem to have the first idea as to how to pick of the pieces of her life. It also tells the eternal moral: money isn't everything.

Excellent excellent acting by Cate Blanchett. I totally believed that she was going off the deep end. If for nothing else, I would recommend the movie for her excellent acting.

8 outa 10. 

I literally had to go through this entire post and delete all of the times I'd written Blue Ivy. Thanks Jay-Z and Beyonce. Rude.


  1. Excellent review! I can't wait to see this. Like you, I love Woody's details as a director. He has such style and presence.

  2. Thank you! Yeah, I can't wait to see what he has coming out next year; I love his style.