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Her life is on a downward slope. But its a bloody hilarious ride…
The movie opens with wealthy socialite Jasmine sat talking to the old lady next to her, on an aircraft. Removing her Dolce & Gabbana shades from her illustrious hair, she seems to waffle on relentlessly about how she met her husband, where they married, the song that was playing when they first shagged.. as they disembark the flight, the old lady practically runs away and Jasmine is left standing on her own by the luggage rack. Jasmine has arrived in San Francisco, and she is staying with her sister in the hopes of rebuilding her life. But the plan is about to backfire as Jasmine’s temper slowly rises – and her tragic decline swiftly begins…
First off, I can honestly say that this is the third funniest movie I’ve seen this year. Secondly, my opinion of Woody Allen may have changed – only slightly. Usually, I can’t stand the bastard. That squeaky-voiced, overrated ‘performs in comedies for the sheer fun of it, yet never quite manages to pull off being amusing’ personality – Yes indeed, the ‘should be funny but never quite made it’ of Hollywood has finally excelled himself. Blue Jasmine extracted snigger, after howl, after ‘LOL’ from me last night, as I sat through the entire 98 minutes in sheer joy. But what made the movie so deliciously dark?..
She absolutely nailed the role of downtrodden widow Jasmine. When I first realised she was the lead role, I felt a little ‘ahh….crap. Her’ – because I associate Cate Blanchett as an actress only cast in those yellowy, old fashioned strung out movies. But she delivered big time in this one. Yes, what happens to the character is tragic, but Cate gift-wrapped her with such splendid emotional acting and comedic timing, that it put the rest of the cast in a backseat whilst she acted her way to splendour.
Sally Hawkins as sister Ginger was fantastic. She seemed to portray her character effortlessly, and her partnership with Cate was like Ribena to water – mix in the right amount and the two blend into a terrific taste. She remained quirky and sarcastically witty throughout, whilst maintaining the classic ‘little sis who may need a hug from time to time’ personality. Bobby Cannavale as Ginger’s mechanic finacé displayed a fierce swagger throughout, with anger issues to match – but although louder and much more brash than Jasmine, never seemed to override her.
The movie jumps back in time, then returns to the present throughout; which confused me at first – Jasmine sat at a dinner table with her sister, then suddenly laying by a pool with her (deceased) husband. But this was a useful element, where the main character talks about something that happened in the past and we get a glimpse of it.
The longer Jasmine stays with Ginger, the more tedious the pair become. The sibling she hardly even sent a text message to when she was loaded and living in New York, now seems to be her best friend, and everyone can see it – but Ginger seems too loyal not to help out her sister. Time passes, (Jasmine downing one Tequila after another with half a bottle of Xanax), and she tries to re-enter the real world by securing a job as a dental receptionist – but when her slimy boss jumps her after hours behind Reception, she instantly quits. Shortly after, she is invited to a social gathering where she meets and falls for wealthy diplomat Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard).
Jasmine’s hysterical outbursts and panic attacks seem to cool off as she lies her way through the first few days of meeting Dwight; she tells him she’s an interior designer (she is not) with no children (she has a son named Danny) whose husband passed away sadly (he hanged himself whilst in prison) – the romance is cut short early, when Dwight realises Jasmine is bullshitting her way through the relationship, in order to feel better about herself.
He dumps her instantly. And she is back to square one.
I’ve heard this question a lot in life. And this movie just summed it up. All these mishaps and calamities shouldn’t be funny – but they’re fucking hilarious. I think the main element Blue Jasmine touches on is that feeling whenever a person’s first reaction is to laugh; someone falling down a flight of stairs, tripping up a curb and falling flat on their face, an object sliding off a shelf and smacking someone on the head – that instant gut-reaction of “HA!…Jesus, are you alright?” Jasmine is distraught – mainly due to her ex-husband’s fraudulent activities which wiped her bank account clean and resulted in her son leaving home, never to be seen again. But its her display of sheer hysteria which had the audience roaring with laughter in a “things really couldn’t get much worse” reaction.
Cate displayed superb characteristics throughout the entire film. Although she had bloodshot eyes and a tear-stained face most of the time, her dynamics were beyond just crying; she gave the whole package – screaming at the top of her voice, shaking uncontrollably, breaking down, talking to herself in public. Her voice was equally as expressive; slurred speech and the half-arsed way she addressed people was honey to my ears. It was fantastically done. A way to envisage her character is to imagine someone who is awfully hungover – times it by 3 – and then add a drop of saliva hanging from their mouth. And bingo – there is Jasmine. She truly is ‘rags to riches’ reversed.
We’re faced with an excruciating “what the HELL are you doing?!” situation, when Jasmine’s sister asks her to babysit her two young boys. The setting is a restaurant table, and the eldest of the boys announces “mom told us you went mad and you talk to yourself in the street”, Jasmine’s wick is lit – and the dynamite is about to explode. The whole bearing her (very adult) heart & soul to two boys who are no more than 10 years old is excruciatingly funny. Keep an eye out for this very short scene – because its fucking hilarious.
Overall, Blue Jasmine was a hilarious portrayal of a broken woman. And poses the questions:
‘is it wrong to laugh at another person’s misfortune’?
‘Is our gut instinct to laugh a bad thing, or is it natural’?
And of course, ‘when it comes down to it – is the only person we can truly rely on – ourselves?’
Whatever Woody Allen was trying to put across, it worked. And I would recommend this movie to anyone who is looking for a raucous comedy. I howled throughout, sniggered to myself as I left the auditorium, laughed as I walked down the hallway..
..and was still laughing as I got on the train to come home.