Kulani Nkuna
2 minute read
20 Dec 2013
6:00 am

Blue Jasmine movie review

Kulani Nkuna

Besides the signature font that accompanies the opening credits, there is little, initially, that suggests this film is a Woody Allen picture.

QUIRKY. Woody Allen (middle) shares a laugh with Cate Blanchett (left) and actor Peter Sarsgaard on the set of Blue Jasmine. Pictures: Supplied.

The direction contains glimpses of his recognisable shot choices, but the writing is markedly stark. Ever since doing his first film outside of New York, Match Point (and then Scoop) in Britain, setting has proved to be a critical part of Allen’s work and the environments in which his stories take place have become characters too.

The last few years have seen the director explore Barcelona, Paris, Rome and now San Francisco with Blue Jasmine. The result is that the sunny disposition of the city contrasts with the emotional travails faced by the lead character, Jasmine, played by Cate Blanchett.

It seems a tall order to be constantly fragile and never at peace as this role requires, but Blanchett remains refreshingly interesting and versatile even though her characters in most of her films have a fragile, disoriented air. She keeps it fresh in every scene and although Jasmine is rather a tragic character, Blanchett executes the humorous requirements of the role brilliantly.

Jasmine is a New York socialite whose life is broken after the arrest of her wealthy husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) for fraud. Via the preamble, in which Allen relates, through flashbacks or in between strands of dialogue, the audience learns that, even in her happiest times, Jasmine had relied on prescription medication in order to maintain a handle on her life.

After the FBI take everything, Jasmine is left destitute and is forced to look back at her earlier life and the prospects she had while she was still at university. She arrives in San Francisco in a fragile mental state, her head reeling from the cocktail of anti-depressants she’s on.

While still able to project an aristocratic bearing, Jasmine is emotionally brittle and lacks the practical ability to support herself. San Francisco appears to have the warmth of a small town while still allowing room for the “upper crust” and Jasmine tries to return to the top of the social pile.

Blue Jasmine is a complete work that allows Allen to tackle social class issues.