The latest movie from Woody Allen doesn’t fit so snug into either the comedic or dramatic territory. Even though the movie does feature moments that are funny, a minute later the tone changes and it becomes something quite heavy. It wouldn’t be fair to call it a dramedy either because in that genre, there are different scenes that separate the comedy from the drama. Blue Jasmine weaves the two together to make a fascinating portrayal of a character we rarely see in movies. The other half of the 1%, their spouses.
We first meet Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) on a plane, talking to an elderly woman about her marriage to Hal (Alec Baldwin). The lady sits and listens to her talk about how they first met and the song that was played when they did. At the airport, the older lady tells her husband that she thought Jasmine was talking to herself, but didn’t know what to do so she just sat there and listened. It’s the first joke of the movie that later turns out to be not so humorous. We learn that she is in San Francisco to stay with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) because Hal was involved in a scam that cost many people a lot of money. One of the victims in his scheme was Ginger’s ex husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) who gave up his life savings to go in to business with Hal. After he was exposed, they lost everything, leaving Jasmine penniless and forced to live with her sister. Everyone thinks that this is a bad idea, including Ginger’s new boyfriend Chilli (Bobby Cannavale) who thinks that Jasmine is just using the people around her. Hal’s ex wife really wants to make a change and do things right by herself for once. But, when you have had stuff handed to you your whole life, where do you go to make such a change?
We rarely see a story about how the economic crash hurt the rich side. It’s usually about a struggling family who lost their home because a bank cheated them out of some funds. Woody Allen doesn’t treat what Hal did with any sympathy. We know it’s a bad thing, and Jasmine knows it too. It’s just that for her, and I’m sure a lot of other women in this scenario, leaving that type of lifestyle isn’t so easy. I’m sure that’s why she never says much about her husband getting cozy with other women at parties even after Ginger admits to seeing him make out with another one earlier that day. In Jasmine’s mind she is probably thinking that if she ignores the problem, it will most likely just go away. Many would call this type of behavior incredibly stupid, but I think she was mostly just scared. Scared of having to face life on her own for once, which would be incredibly frightening for those who have always been looked after their whole lives. It would be like throwing a person into the deep ocean without any life jackets or teaching them how to swim.
Cate Blanchett is amazing in the title role, and I could see her being nominated for Best Actress at many award ceremonies. She has, at times, the same kind of neurotic persona that Mr. Allen usually plays in his movies. Yet, there are other times when her character goes into something much more tragic. The rest of the cast, including Sally Hawkins, Louis CK, and Alec Baldwin, are all really good with their roles but the one that surprised me the most was Andrew Dice Clay. If you would have told me back in the early 90’s that this guy would be in a Woody Allen movie, I would have easily bet my life savings that it would never happen. This is a guy known for having misogynistic, racist, and homophobic jokes throughout his act. I say act because I really think he was playing a certain type of character that just went on for a long time. A lot of comedians do that. They find a role that fits best with an audience and then just stays with it. In this, he is the same loud talking type of guy but shows a little bit more vulnerability when he acts with Cate Blanchett. It’s clear that he is playing a real human being and not just The Dice Man.
The Good: Interesting script that shows a different kind of victim concerning the whole banking fraud scenario.
The Best: Wonderful acting from the cast including an Oscar performance by Cate Blanchett.
The Weird: Seeing Louis CK in romantic scenes with Sally Hawkins took a little getting used to (but he is still good).