By Celia B.
Woody Allen’s latest masterpiece, Blue Jasmine, is certainly a nail-biter—but not in the same respect of a thriller or an action movie. It does bear some similarity to those genres in that, by the time the credits roll, the viewer is not left with a sense of happiness or heart warmth, but rather with the honor that Allen has just let them in on one of the juiciest secrets of all time. The dynamicity of each character is immediately engrossing—along with the dynamicity of the entire plot.
Cate Blanchett stars as Jasmine, a former member of Manhattan’s elite before her fall from grace after the outbreak of her husband’s embezzlement. Left penniless and on the brink of mental instability, Jasmine seeks refuge with her adopted sister, Ginger, in a shabby San Francisco apartment. But contrary to my early predictions, Jasmine does not receive a reality check. In fact, the whole story revolves around society misconception—Jasmine being the symbol of superficiality. To others, she appears to be slowly clambering back onto her feet, when truly she is verging on self-destruction.
Because of the spirited acting in this movie, the audience is able to sympathize with whoever’s face is on the screen. Cate Blanchett manages for you to feel heart-wrenching pity for her due to the unfaithfulness of her secret sleaze of a husband, Hal, played excellently by Alec Baldwin. Hal is dislikable, but reminds the audience of someone they might’ve known once–maybe had even trusted. We regard Ginger as our own sister, cringing as we watch her tumble through a downward spiral, but filled with relief to see her find her way again. Bobby Cannavale supports the plot as Ginger’s blue-collar boyfriend, Chili, who struggles with an alcohol-induced temper. Despite this flaw, Chili is undeniably sensitive, equipped with unwavering loyalty for Ginger. He is a character that has you rooting for him even if the protagonist, who finds him a “grease-monkey loser,” is not.
Each scene slowly progresses to a jaw-dropping point, only to be transitioned away from with a jazzy score that is so ironically easygoing that by the end of the film it becomes a tense and menacing anthem.
Brilliantly, Allen tells a story backwards, with an honest ending that fills the viewer with a sense of tragic disillusionment, as well as quiet triumph. We are able to chuckle with relatable humor, but the comicality of this movie erupts in short, subtle bits, soon to be smothered by a harrowing shot of Jasmine battling bursts of nervous breakdowns or the rattle of an antidepressant pill bottle that desperately needs to be opened. There is the contradictory theme that life goes on, and we see this mantra ring true for some, yet for others, not.
Blue Jasmine is speckled with strong symbolism, and serves as a veiled warning for what happens when one is unable to move on. If you can wrap your head around the underlying messages, you will be able to decipher the secret. It is worth discovering.
This movie is rated PG-13 for brief language and adult content.