Saturday 7 July 2018

Blue Jasmine

Beware that this film jumps back and forwards in timeline with little or no warning, so stay on your toes! It starts in the present where Jasmine, played by Cate Blanchett, arrives in San Francisco to spend some time with her sister. Jasmine portrays the image of a wealthy socialite from New York, expecting everyone around her to fall over themselves to facilitate her every whim, having been used to all the shallow trappings which plenty of money will bring. But therein lies the twist.

Jasmine has been the victim of circumstance, doesn't have a penny to her name and is reaching out to her previously ignored sister, who lives within an entirely different social class and from one pay packet to the next. She lives in a rundown apartment and appears to have made misguided choices about men in her life and how to navigate her way through survival towards happiness.

The two women try to tolerate each other and indeed the situation in which they find themselves. The story unfolds to reveal much about their backgrounds and circumstances which have brought them to this place and time. The film is not only about human nature and the different, but just as troublesome, trappings of varied social class, but also about mental health issues and how the suffering which, however it came about, can be exacerbated and rejuvenated by circumstance, to some degree beyond one's control.

This is an unusual Allen film. It moves a little away from an out and out comedy and towards a real life drama about people finding their way through life's complications, with comedy thrown in here and there. His stories are always character rich, however, and each one brings something interesting to the proceedings. Cate Blanchett is perfectly cast. The viewer wants to shake all that stuck up posh snobbery and money-generated behaviour out her. She's immensely unlikable, though as things develop and the background comes to light, even though she doesn't help herself much we also move towards sympathy and understanding. The final scene of the film is indeed heart-wrenching to watch.

Blanchett has the lion's share of the screen-time and is suitably supported mainly by her on-screen sister, Ginger, played by Sally Hawkins. Alec Baldwin plays the ex-husband, but barely has anything to do. Peter Saarsgard plays Jasmine's boyfriend, Dwight, and Bobby Canavale, Ginger's Chili. But this is a film centred very firmly around Jasmine and her difficulties. As I say, it's a little off the beaten track for a Woody Allen film, but worth the viewing. It's far from his best work but, at 80 years old and his 45th directorial outing here, not every one can be better than the last. Recommended.

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