Woody Allen’s latest. Jasmine (Cate Blanchette) who is a wealthy socialite married to Hal (Alec Baldwin). He is unfaithful and in revenge she exposes his financial shenanigans to the FBI. All their fortune disappears, Jasmine’s son leaves her. She goes to San Francisco to live with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) who is working class. Blue Jasmine tracks her psychic disintegration as she alienates Ginger’s boyfriend Chilli (Bobby Cannavale). Jasmine works for a dentist and later meets a rich boyfriend Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard). She drinks too much and talks to herself. Will her life improve…?
Unanimous critical opinion has praised this film. I’ve been immune to Woody Allen throughout his career and on the showing of this film I still am. All that middle class name dropping of artists and philosophers, all those intensive arguments that plod where most of us hardly miss a step. All those self conscious witticisms and all that earnest psychobabble. The volubility of his couples sound like the embarrassments you would overhear from a middle class soiree. As Jasmine, Cate Blanchette plays the role that Vivien Leigh played so well. Blanche Dubois as the alcoholic wreck who looks at the psychological and social disintegration of her life in self pitying slow motion. It’s obvious that Allen has been reading his Tenessee Williams exam notes because Blanchette goes through Leigh’s act so well, to the point of party piece parody. Ginger’s boyfriend plays the Marlon Brando character, Kawalski, all slick and bruiser physicality. Might as well call this film Cat on a Menageries Hot Tin Roof. Jasmine is a posh blonde rich bitch who doesn’t care about Ginger until she’s out of luck when her cuckolding husband loses all their money in financial disgrace. She tries to keep up patrician appearances and pretensions in Ginger’s working class San Francisco home. Sally Hawkins is a British actress who does either posh debutantes or feisty working women and she’s the only character in this film that I’ve got any time for. Unusually for Woody Allen there is neither leaden humour nor would be cerebral discussion, rather there are abrasive quarrels that get physically rough. It’s as if Woody Allen has just discovered domestic violence. Jasmine talks to herself but her soliloquies are not Woody Allen’s Philosophy for Dummies monologue but those of a mind falling apart. Her high class elegance is accentuated by the chunky plebeian relatives who refuse to pander to her desperate attempts to cling on to gentility. Far from being his best in years, Blue Jasmine is a joke free imitation of Tennessee Williams.