Blue Jasmine (2013)
March 31, 2015 8:32 AM - Subscribe

A New York socialite, deeply troubled and in denial, arrives in San Francisco to impose upon her sister. She looks a million, but isn't bringing money, peace, or love...
posted by gemutlichkeit (13 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm on the side of Bruce Handy (Vanity Fair reviewer). This movie felt really sadistic, even as you could see Blanchett reveling in the role. And I've always loved Sally Hawkins, and she's the best ever here. But this sort of torture of a woman who's no longer young is exactly why I feel Allen's personal ick factor carries over into his art too much.
posted by BibiRose at 11:53 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

It would have worked better if it had been set in the 1970s rather than the 2010s.
posted by brujita at 4:15 PM on March 31, 2015

Oh, yeesh, BibiRose, it's a nearly honking obvious homage to "A Streetcar Named Desire." (But done well.)
posted by raysmj at 7:01 PM on March 31, 2015 [3 favorites]

Oh, and I should note that I don't think it's any more or less cruel than "A Streetcar Name Desire" is, should you care to see it as cruel, which I didn't. I thought it showed that Williams' subject matter was more universal than is usually let on. I didn't even think of Woody's personal life here, at all. (Curiously, though, the script was kinder to the obvious mirror of Stanley Kowalski--Augie, as played by Andrew Dice Clay. He seems vastly more sympathetic when he learn that he had every reason to be outraged. He's not bullying a psychologically disturbed woman and and going on crazed rants about the Napoleonic Code. He was genuinely ripped off, not just in his mind, a la Stanley.)

I think it would be cruel if Jasmine had turned in her husband for anything but blind rage, and if she hadn't have been doing so well with Peter Sarsgaard, even if she lied to him repeatedly and in bald-faced fashion. She was not rejected for looks or age! Otherwise, it's a tragedy, not an exercise in cruelty.
posted by raysmj at 7:16 PM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

I remember thinking two things after seeing it on an airplane

1. the title should really be Cate Blanchett's Face and Things It Can Do. Like that's the whole reason the movie exists, right?

2. why are the working class Italian San Fransico guys dressed like Napalese runaway models at a futuristic gigalo theme show?
posted by The Whelk at 9:31 AM on April 1, 2015 [5 favorites]

1. the title should really be Cate Blanchett's Face and Things It Can Do. Like that's the whole reason the movie exists, right?

That's how I feel too!

As far as the cruelty, I think it's all in the moment to moment, in how she acts and reacts. To me, she gives the appearance of someone who's been trapped and is now being tortured. There is certainly a level of tragedy; it's a tragedy like Sophocles' Ajax where the character is stripped first of all he has, and then of all he is. Jasmine was almost too good at being who she was, and the movie sort of turns her inside out.

I don't know if I could have been able to keep watching if now for Sally Hawkins, who does a wonderful job of depicting a comic heroine, the kind who does all the wrong things for all the right reasons.
posted by BibiRose at 6:48 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]

The working class San Francisco guys sound like they're from New York -- not from California (or Mexico or El Salvador or ... anywhere that wasn't where Woody Allen fancies working class people are).

Also: there was a MeFi meetup at one of the film locations nearly at the same time it was made. Memory does not serve me now -- I'll have to look it up later.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:33 AM on April 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

I really liked this movie, and thought it was one of Allen's best in years. I thought it was kind of Scandinavian in its merciless treatment of Jasmine.

As a person from San Francisco I did find it to be hilarious how Allen just populated the city with the sort of Italian hot-blooded dudes that mostly only exist in New York and the eastern seaboard, though. He might as well have filmed it in Scranton or Peoria for all the setting had to do with the movie.
posted by whir at 7:45 PM on April 6, 2015 [3 favorites]

Well that's one of things that I can't figure is actual intent or just a happy accident; Jasmine is unmoored from her world, the safe monied Upper East Side world she's known. But nothing else outside her resembles the "real world" as we know, with the possible exception of the rape-y dentist, which is played for laughs. Everything not part of Jasmine's gauzy super-rich existence is surreal and jarring and not at all like any real place - the Italian-American working class characters aren't even out of place for SF, they're out of place for this century, by a long shot. The only places that seem grounded in "reality" are tony events and flashbacks and house buying scenes and I honestly can't say if that's supposed to be how Jasmine views the world or how a very cloistered director thinks the rest of the world is like.
posted by The Whelk at 10:40 PM on April 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

But, as said before, the draw of the movie is Blanchett's FACE and she's amazing. It's like silent movie almost. It's totally Blanche Dubois and now it's on film forever.
posted by The Whelk at 10:44 PM on April 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

For me to feel Jasmine's predicament was cruel would have to mean I didn't think she deserved the karmic retribution she was left with due to her generally being an asshole. You could say Jasmine ended in the same place she started, just not as happy. We see her completely invested in the facade of a socialite life, even not admitting to the very obvious shady dealings her husband participated in, which she literally signed off for him, and even watched/helped ruin her sister's life by allowing all of her money to be stolen just so she could maintain an integrity to that facade. I think Jasmine is in a hell of her own making, and that very 'making' being the stories she is tasked to endlessly tell, much like Sissyphus and his task.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:56 AM on April 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Yes, I think it's possible that that's indeed Allen's notion of "reality" outside his own world.

One thing that saves the movie for me, plot-wise, is that she doesn't bring herself down only by passivity and conniving, but by an act that shows real passion. The larger story is kind of crude but Allen has a way of burrowing into the story to find something unexpected. For me, when she goes to see her stepson, that's one of Allen's into the belly of the beast moments. What he says is truly cruel and shocking even as you can sympathize with him.
posted by BibiRose at 6:12 AM on April 7, 2015

There was a lot of talk about Clay's performance when this movie came out. Which is well deserved as he gave one of the only humanizing portrayals in the film made up of mostly caricatures, most notable contrast being Jasmine.
posted by P.o.B. at 8:34 PM on April 12, 2015

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