Blue Jasmine: Brilliant, provocative, and… blue

FILM Blanchett 3I WOULD not call myself a Woody Allen fan. It’s not that I dislike him or his style but rather it’s due to the fact I haven’t seen much of his work. Allen’s reputation precedes him, having made or starred in (in some cases both) a film almost every year since the late 70s. The fact that I went into this film having only seen one other of his works made me wary of what to expect.

Cate Blanchett plays Jasmine, a socialite from New York who has recently fallen from grace due to her husband’s fortune, raised on illegal and fraudulent loopholes, being found out by the FBI. With nowhere else to go she seeks help from her sister in San Francisco, sunny California, to restart her life from the bottom of the social ladder. This definitely isn’t the first film where a central character has moved to the west coast of the U.S.A.

Like the plot, the look of the film is really reminiscent of older films. The glamorous life of Jasmine and her husband in New York has a similar feel to Wall Street, and the iconic yet grubby streets of San Francisco remind me of scenes from Dirty Harry, Vertigo, and Bullitt, not the sprawling metropolis as presented in much more recent portrayals.

Past events are particularly relevant as throughout the film we get flashbacks to Jasmines former glamorous life, revealing what led to the events that changed Jasmine’s life. Whilst other films would have trouble pulling such a feat off, of seemingly telling two tales at the same time, Allen pulls it off brilliantly, with each switch revealing more of the story.

Blanchett fits the shoes of a rich socialite well, in a believable performance that makes you want to both hate her and help her at the same time; frustratingly narrow minded yet clearly intelligent, her character ends up bringing down (or almost bringing down) the lives of the people around as she tries to stay afloat. Bobby Cannavele brings a lot to the table as Jasmine’s sister’s fiancé, showing great emotional range from absolute rage to bursting into tears like a baby. Comedian Louis C.K. also appears for what felt like twenty minutes but ultimately leaves abruptly over a one sided phone call, leaving the impression of wasted potential despite a neat wrap up of his part. These are highlights of a talented cast, which also includes Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins and Peter Sarsgaard.

For the sake of spoilers it is difficult to explain how or why this film ends up being a depressing film; suffice it to say that Jasmine keeps on trying to redeem herself, both honestly and dishonestly, only to be cast back to where she started at the beginning of the film. The final scene is a sad one, leaving one with the impression that you cannot hide from the things that you have done, and that your life is what you made it.