The charm of Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine is lost on me. Like Frances Ha before it, here is a film with a lead character so vapid and insufferable that I just couldn’t connect with the story at all. Sure, Cate Blanchett delivers an exceptional performance as the titular Jasmine, but the character she creates is one that I had no time for. Indeed, if there’s one thing that really grinds my gears it’s ignorance – and Blanchett’s Jasmine is one of the most ignorant narcissists that I’ve ever had the displeasure of meeting.
The plot is straightforward: Jasmine, a socialite married to a multimillionaire businessman (Alec Baldwin; To Rome with Love), travels to San Francisco after her husband was exposed as a crook and cheat. She stays with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins; Made in Dagenham) in order to get back on her feet, bemoaning the fact that she’s lost everything despite splurging on a first class flight, tipping the cabbie and wearing expensive clothes that other women can only dream of purchasing.
It’s a phenomenal Oscar-calibre performance by Cate Blanchett, but it doesn’t change the fact that Jasmine is a self-obsessed snob of the highest order. The film plays with time by frequently flashing back to tell the parallel story of Jasmine’s relationship with husband Hal, and while there’s some sense that she’s a victim of his scheming, Jasmine nevertheless deserves little sympathy due to her vacuous, insipid elitism and wilful ignorance of Hal’s business practices.
The movie tries to make us care but I was more interested in Ginger’s relationship with Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), her own past husband, and current fiancé Chili (Bobby Cannavale). By way of contrast, Jasmine makes for a detestable lead that really prevented me from appreciated the film. As a supporting character she might have been more palatable, but by taking centre stage she infects the entire picture with her odorous attitude. When a convenient plot development gives her a chance to redeem herself, we instead see that she’s turned into a desperate shell of a person, something that resembles her two-faced husband more than she’d care to admit.
It all ends on a bit of downer, which doesn’t help. I’m not saying that all movies need to have happy endings, but Blue Jasmine ends with a scene trying so hard to resonate but I still couldn’t help but ask, “Why should I give a rat’s ass?” Clearly, I didn’t.
Featuring a phenomenal lead performance by Cate Blanchett – as a snobbish character who I could barely stand for more than a few minutes.