In Woody Allen’s 44th film, we first meet New York socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), shortly after she has suffered a breakdown triggered by the cataclysmic collapse of her marriage to fraudster-financier Hal (Alec Baldwin). Hitting rock bottom both financially and psychologically and with nowhere else to go, Jasmine turns to her rarely contacted sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins) and her small, modest surroundings in San Francisco.
Jasmine’s opportunities and ordeals unravel around flashbacks to New York and her previous identity as an elegant, well-dressed, culturally sophisticated woman living the Manhattan high life. Through these recollections, the contrast in Jasmine’s character is astounding: once so regal and almost aristocratic, she has been reduced to a frazzled, anxious shell, not adept with reality and hooked on a cocktail of lithium and Xanax.
We learn that Jasmine measures her own self-worth by how she is viewed by others and strives to always control that perception. She is obsessed with bettering herself and imposes this on her gracious sister. Ginger looks up to Jasmine and now sees an opportunity to have a real connection with her, unaware that she may be too far gone to reach. As humorous as it is touching, Allen contrasts Jasmine’s schizophrenic episodes with a sharp, cutting wit that can only come from the spoiled, glamorous rich. “You must have heard of Prozac and lithium” she flippantly says to Ginger’s two little boys.
Necessitated by the unreliability of Jasmine as a narrator, Allen uses flashbacks to reveal what truly happened beneath the superficial surface of her past. In a fit of anger she did something that had dire consequences she never anticipated; she brought upon herself an extremely potent series of traumas and now has no control over her life, her mind or the people around her.
Cate Blanchett is marvellous as Jasmine, giving a splendidly energetic performance. Her bona fide portrayal of Jasmine’s anxiety and panic attacks is so authentic it is almost uncomfortable to watch her suffer. In Blue Jasmine, Blanchett becomes her character rather than just a vessel, bringing this unfortunate, delusional woman to life.
Blue Jasmine is released nationwide on 27th September 2013.
Watch the trailer for Blue Jasmine here: