Firstly, this tweet made me laugh out loud because it is true.
Woody Allen is really committed to that font.
— Josh Radnor (@JoshRadnor) July 26, 2013
Blue Jasmine is now my favorite Woody Allen movie so far. I haven’t seen Annie Hall in several years, so I may redact that statement upon another viewing, but for now, yes, it is. I know I’m already in the minority for not liking Vicky Crisitna Barcelona, and for not having seen every movie Allen has made, but let me tell you why this one is special. The Woody character, the neurotic, quirky, frazzled, dare-I-say-adorkable centerpiece of the film, is nonexistent. Finally, at the ripe old age of 77, he’s taken all of those characteristics and morphed them into something detestable, and maybe even unlovable.
That something is Jasmine, played by Cate Blanchett. She’s been through hell, as Allen shows us by cutting in moments from her glamourous past. She was once married to Hal (Halec Baldwin), investment banker extraordinaire, but he turned out to be a complete dickbag and squandered her money, her sister’s money, everyone’s money, into all sorts of frivolous purchases. It’s hard to say how much of this Jasmine was aware of–whether she was too dumb to pay attention, too smart to, or some ambiguous level inbetween the two–but the after-effects of his arrest and suicide have left her in a complex, deeply manic state. She talks to herself. She thinks about the past almost constantly. She’s never really living in the present-day. She experiences consistent delusions. She shakes and spasms, and she’s generally unpleasant to be around. She has no redeeming qualities, save for her impeccable taste in clothing. I found that, despite the helplessness of her situation, it was very difficult to feel sorry for her. Whatever idiosyncrasies she had, she used them to her complete disadvantage. She complained more when she could have been quiet. She chose not to enjoy herself at lunch with friends when she could have sat back and relaxed. She never found a way to make anything better for herself, perhaps because she never had to before in her life. It’s utterly devastating to watch, and I think Blanchett should be handed a golden statue right now.
The rest of the players in the movie are fairly light, especially compared to her. Sally Hawkins, her whiff of an adopted sister, has a delightful, easy-going presence about her, despite her guido-ish taste in men (Andrew Dice Clay and Bobby Cannavale). Her dalliance with Louis CK isn’t nearly as satisfying as all the press had gotten me to believe; in fact, he plays a douche. (But I still love seeing him anytime I see him.) Peter Sarsgaard, Jasmine’s temporary love interest, has this smarmy quality about him that’s somehow charming, which fits beautifully into his political-hopeful lifestyle. He and his khaki pants and his Marin country house and tailored smile are Jasmine’s ideal, were she not a basket case.
There isn’t a happy ending for Jasmine, nor is there an unhappy one. The movie just ends, Sopranos-style, and I’m still wondering, several days later, what became of her. I expect to see her walking down the streets of San Francisco, vocally reminiscing and boggling the minds of tourists. Jasmine is a bizarre, intense enigma, one that you can feel sorry for and repulsed by and completely identify with all at the same time. It’s sort of scary, but it’s hard to look away, too. If I happen to see her mumbling on a park bench, I might sit down and lend an ear for a few minutes. I think she could use the company.