Although I am a Woody Allen fan I avoided this film in the theaters because I prefer the films that he actively stars or at least co-stars in, which he didn’t do in this film. However I recently finally saw it and I was simply blown away by how great this is. Cate Blanchett is the bomb, yo! She just knocks this role right out the park!
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Written and directed by Woody Allen last year, Blanchette stars as Jasmine. We open with her moving from NY to San Francisco to move in with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins) in her small apartment. As the story progresses we learn through flashbacks that Jasmine was married to Hal (Alec Baldwin) a wealthy businessman and together they lived the high-life in NY as socialites. Meanwhile Ginger had married a blue-collar worker named Augie (played by Andrew “Dice” Clay) and Jasmin was somewhat embarrassed by them. When Ginger and Augie come to NY to visit Jasmine goes out of her way to spend as little time with them as possible. When Jasmine finds out that Augie won $200,000 in the lottery and plans to use it to start his own business, Jasmine instead convinces him to give the money to Hal to invest for him. Eventually Jasmine’s life comes crashing down around her when Hal gets arrested by the Feds for multiple counts of fraud, having ripped off dozens of people who gave him their money to invest, including Augie. Jasmine is humiliated as she and Hal lose everything, and then Hal kills himself in prison. Left with nothing, that’s what caused Jasmine to move in with Ginger.
Ginger and Augie got divorced since he blamed Jasmine what Hal did, while Ginger tried to take her side. Now Ginger is dating a new guy named Chili (Bobby Cannavale), another blue collar worker whom Jasmine looks down on. Even while trying to get back on her feet, Jasmine continues to show disdain for Ginger’s lifestyle and thanks she’s too good for this. She has dreams of becoming an interior designer and tries to take some online classes, while getting a job working as an assistant for a dentist, (Michael Stuhlbarg) although she considers that job beneath her too, and eventually quits after the dentist comes on to her. Eventually at a party she meets a wealthy businessman named Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard) and they start dating. It’s clear that Jasmine just sees him as her ticket back to her former high class lifestyle and she lies about her background to impress him. It works and sooner than expected, Dwight is ready to propose to her. But that comes crashing down when they bump into Augie who reveals all of her secrets, which shocks and angers Dwight who immediately dumps her. With her whole life having fallen apart again, Jasmine snaps, she fights with Ginger and moves out, although she has no place to go, and we last see her sitting alone on a bench, talking to herself as strangers pass by looking at her like she’s crazy.
There’s a couple of other subplots, Ginger breaks up with Chili after they fight about Jasmine and she briefly begins dating another man, played earnestly by Louis C.K., until she finds out that he’s married and she gets back with Chili (which is what causes the final fight with Jasmine) and there’s story of Jasmine’s stepson Danny (Alden Ehrenreich) who she loved as her own son but he rejected her after Hal’s suicide. I don’t want to spoil it, but you could say that there’s a bit of a twist ending as we learn that Jasmine had more of hand in the events of her life than she cared to admit.
And that’s what I love about the character of Jasmine in this film, and how Blanchett plays her. This is a woman all about appearances and image. She’d rather lie to everyone, even to herself, than admit any troubles in her life. We see that even when she and Hal were married it was obvious to others, including Ginger, that he was cheating on her, but Jasmine refused to acknowledge it. She didn’t want to know anything that would ruin the façade of her life. And that’s why her slow mental breakdown over the course of the film feels so real and looks so believable. Everything that she thought she was just crumbled before and she didn’t know how to handle it. Hence, the break with reality. And even though she’s not really a sympathetic character you can’t but feel a little bit sorry for her in the end.
Blanchett deserves every bit of credit and acclaim that she received for this film. And so does the rest of the cast. Even though their roles were smaller than I expected I thought Andrew “Dice” Clay and Louis C.K. were both stand outs in their roles, likewise Sally Hawkins and Bobby Cannavale were very impressive. A wonderful film. Chacebook rating: FIVE STARS
Categories: WOODY ALLEN FILMS