BluejasmineThe Scent Of Despair



Blue Jasmine
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Peter Sarsgaard and Louis C. K.
Director/Scriptwriter: Woody Allen
Sony Classics
Rating: PG 13
Running Length: 115 minutes
Woody Allen has written a script about the failure of a marriage. It is told in flashbacks that happen suddenly and are disconcerting as the audience has a mili-second to go from one part of the marriage to another. Alec Baldwin (Hal) and Cate Blanchett (Jasmine) seem the happy couple. He dotes on her and she loves it, but it is an illusion as we discover. The supporting cast is what makes the film, from Jasmine’s sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins whose dithering hands drives one to distraction) to Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) to Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard) to Chili (Bobby Cannavale). Each has scenes in which they do their stuff.  The setting is San Francisco, where Jasmine goes to visit Ginger after her divorce.
In the film, Hal is a financier with shady dealings. He always has money and spends it on lavish parties, gifts for Jasmine (trophy wife), servants, expensive cars and global trips. Jasmine embraces this life style and maintains a haughty appearance, though liquor is a friend, plus pills. When Hal’s schemes are discovered, he goes to prison, the government takes it all, and Jasmine ends up going to San Francisco to visit adopted sister, Ginger. By this time, Jasmine (really Jeanette) has probably gone through a breakdown and headed for a second one.
The adopted sisters are polar opposites and Ginger being a fluttering, indecisive single mother with an eye on any guy for fun. Jasmine alternates between being kind of fun to be with and arrogant, which Ginger’s current boyfriend, Augie (Bobby Cannavale) loves to point out. (Think “Streetcar Named Desire” here). To cope, Jasmine looks for work, but always with liquor or pills nearby. There are humorous moments such as on double dates, Jasmine’s job as a receptionist with an amorous dentist (Michael Stuhlbarg), and meeting a wealthy man who seems genuinely attracted to her (Peter Sarsgaard). All nice situations fall apart whenever Augie (Ginger’s former husband played by Andrew Dice Clay) appears as a Greek Chorus who pokes holes in everyone's illusions and lets the world know he is broke because Hal stole his money. We do find out secrets, bit by bit, and see why people did what they did and do what they do.  All through, however, I didn't think Cate Blanchett gave a true performance. It was acting and it showed, and on the opposite hand, Sally Hawkins as Ginger was way over the top.
People fall into patterns and Jasmine’s is to try and live the rich life even though she isn't rich anymore. She has formed an illusion of wealth and travel to protect a person who is afraid of life. On the other hand, Ginger could be more than she is, but always comes back to grease-under-the-fingernails men, because she is afraid to try anything else, too. Both are caught on opposite sides of the spectrum. Bobby Cannavale’s Augie is a fierce man with a large temper who can't keep his mouth shut. Andrew Dice Clay comes unannounced at inopportune moments to give his opinion and set the stage for another act. Alec Baldwin, though not in the film that much, is always discussed because of his financial failings. The questions hangs overhead: did Jasmine know of his illegal dealings or not? Woody Allen has put a good script together here and it almost works..
By the time the film is over, you feel as though you know these people and want to step in and help, but they keep spiraling either upward or downward on their own. It's a fascinating soap opera. The soundtrack is wonderfully done, but there is no composer listed.
Copyright 2013 Marie Asner
For another Woody Allen film review see the following:
Match Point