Blue Jasmine, Blue Moon
Betrayal. Denial. Xanax. Fraud. Tantrums. More Xanax.
All of these and more make an entrance in Blue Jasmine, a film directed by Woody Allen. Although the movie came out in U.S. theaters last summer, I watched it recently and was thoroughly hooked.
This is no laugh-out-loud film but it definitely has its comedic moments. The dark humor and storyline throughout the movie cast a pale light over the dramatic life of Jeanette, who calls herself “Jasmine,” smartly played by Cate Blanchett. After her wealthy status crumbles following a situation involving her husband, Jasmine travels to San Francisco to crash with her sister Ginger, with whom she is not close.
At the mention of specific keywords or catchphrases – “Blue Moon” being one of them – Jasmine begins to daydream about a certain memory from her past, reliving the moment anew. This technique helps to drive the plot along, as the viewer glimpses insights into Jasmine’s inner psyche. The character development and pacing of the film move along well, though not without a few twists and bumps along the way, as some of the characters seem more like cartoonish caricatures than believable people. However, Allen is known for these inconsistencies.
Blanchett brings such depth and nuance to her role as the troubled and mentally ill Jasmine. Xanax cannot save her. Neither can her remaining family members, whom she pushes away and can’t seem to be open and honest enough with. But more urgently: she remains deluded to herself. Although Jasmine does attempt to “change” her life by getting a job and taking classes, her dreams quickly become frustrated by the many obstacles in her way. That is, until she meets a certain real estate agent (Peter Sarsgaard) with an eye for design and a loaded wallet…
Jasmine’s powers of imagination and suppression of the truth seem stronger than her desire to be completely transparent and start afresh on those terms. She can’t seem to shake free of her privileged habits and lifestyle, as is evidenced from the first-class flight she takes to Ginger’s, and all the designer clothes and bags she parades around, even though she is supposedly flat-out broke (I guess that’s where a credit card comes in: Beware the plastic!).
As many Allen fans would suspect, the ending is far from happy-go-lucky, and while it may leave some dissatisfied, I personally think it works here. The movie highlights the frailty of humankind, the tenuous thread of familial relations, and the lengths to which we will go to uphold a fantasy, even if it takes us to the end of the road – quite literally.
Throughout the film, I vacillated from disliking Jasmine to pitying her. Her situation seemed so extreme and her unbalanced psychological state didn’t make things better for her. In the end, I just wanted her to realize the part she had played in her life coming to these dire straits, and for her to be able to overcome her biggest inner demons. Fighting!
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own