Woody Allen's latest film, 'Blue Jasmine' takes his audience back into an American setting for the first time since his film 'Melinda Melinda' in 2004, with the one exception being a film called 'Whatever Works,' starring Larry David, which went almost completely unnoticed. Much of Allen's recent films have been set in exotic places such as Rome, Barcelona and Paris, in addition to numerous films in England. For those who have followed his career for a long time, you will note that this is very different from his past, where every one of his films were filmed in New York, with much of the same cast as well. This film has an ensemble cast as many of his other films do, and switches back and forth between Jasmine's current life that she is trying to salvage in San Francisco to flashbacks of her life in New York.
'Blue Jasmine' stars Cate Blanchett as Jasmine, a woman who has been taken care of by her wealthy husband Hal, (Alec Baldwin) without having to work or worry about money since dropping out of college. For years, she simply looks the other way when Hal is conducting his business. She eventually finds out that he has been having affairs for years and that he has been engaged in illegal activity in order to obtain his fortune. Hal is sent to prison and commits suicide before the film begins, but we see footage of their marriage through a number of flashbacks.
Jasmine has lived an elite socialite life for such a long time that she does not even know how to act around regular people, and finds it hard to deal with people after her move to San Francisco. She is also too full of herself and hard to relate to as a main character.
At the start of the film, she arrives in San Francisco, in an attempt to reconnect with a sister that she had neglected for years, after having nowhere else to go. Her sister, Ginger, (Sally Hawkins) resents her for the way that she abandoned her, but is willing to let her stay because she is family. Her current boyfriend criticizes her throughout the film for bringing her in now, after she acted like she did not care about her when she had money. After hearing that she does not know anyone, he also sets her up with a loser of a guy for them to have a double date.
Throughout the film, Jasmine continues to contemplate what to do with her life. After deciding she wants to go to interior designing school, she begins taking computer classes in order to take the class online, which seems a bit silly. She has also had a nervous breakdown before coming to San Francisco and continues to have wild tendencies. She talks to herself on a number of occasions and continues to take drugs such as Xanex for her problems. She even confesses her feelings on multiple occasions to her two young nephews, who obviously do not need to hear about her problems. The actions of the characters in this film seem too forced, and real people do not act on their feelings in this way. The film is done in such a way that the characters are obviously performing for a film and does not feel realistic.
Blanchett plays the role brilliantly, although the rest of the cast seems to be a bit off. Andrew Dice Clay, the washed up comedian who has not done anything in over a decade, other than play himself on Entourage, plays Ginger's ex-husband. He does a fine job in the role, but just seems to be out of place, especially in a Woody Allen film. In addition, stand up comedian Louis C.K. plays someone that Ginger is briefly involved with, who takes on a bit of an odd role. Interestingly enough, the guy who almost always seems to play a shady character, Peter Sarsgaard, is the one good person that exists throughout this film. He plays Dwight, a man that Jasmine meets and falls in love with, although she lies to him every step of the way and their relationship does not last long. Bobby Cannavale, known for his television work such as Boardwalk Empire and Nurse Jackie, plays Ginger's boyfriend Chili who does not deserve her in the slightest. Jasmine continues to urge her to leave him, but she is determined to stay with someone that does not treat her right, which is sad to see.
This film was well done, but falls short because it does not have a very happy or complete ending. It will certainly get nominated for best picture and Cate Blanchett deserves a nomination as well, for her incredible performance in the role of Jasmine. This film has classic Woody Allen kind of lines and it is clearly defined as one of his films, with the way that Jasmine acts especially. While I did not enjoy this film as much as his other recently released films, it was a good story with excellent acting.