Blue Jasmine (USA, 2013)

blue_jasmineDirected by: Woody Allen. This was part of the same impulse that sent me looking to To Rome With Love, so check out my Woody disclaimer over there. And just when all I can say about 21st century Woody is that he makes nice, low-stakes, dramas and comedies, with storylines like clockwork and time-worn, but ultimately pretty dispensable tropes and characters, then he comes up with this thing. This is definitely one of his best movies, and to me it’s kind of the crowning achievement of a lot of aspects of his filmography. The thing that’s always been difficult for me in these movies is that, somewhere along the way, it boils down to wealthy white people in khaki slacks and sport coats talking about their feelings as they meander from their amazing Manhattan apartments to some rich-looking Manhattan neighborhoods to their rich-looking beach house on Long Island. I’m really sorry that you’re not 100% happy with your upbringing, but…who gives a shit? I respect that if this is the world that Woody knows, it makes sense that all of his movies are in this world, and he’s done some really interesting narratives in that world, including some of my favourites, Crimes and Misdemeanors and Matchpoint. In this movie, he takes the bull by the horns and makes this very question the central point of the whole movie, in a way that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him do before. The entire movie is kind of turning on how much sympathy we have for Jasmine, even as the entire thing unfolds and we get to know her as a pretty unlikable and repulsive human being, but that’s the thing! At the end, she is still a human being, and her human flaws make her very vulnerable. As I watched, I could see that thesis forming in the film, and I resented it and I resisted it. Why do we need another movie to make us feel bad about wealthy people, especially wealthy people who use dishonesty to sponge off of the rest of society, and especially when compared to the regular working people who were directly impacted by those rich fuckers? The film is daring us to come to that conclusion. Goddamit, Jasmine, why are you such a fuckup? Why can’t you just keep your shit together? You lived high on the hog, and now you’re going to have to go the laundromat and do your own fucking laundry like the rest of us, deal with it! But in that final shot of Jasmine sitting on the park bench, shaking, you can see that yes, in fact, the basic humanity is there, and she is still a person. If you cut her, does she not bleed? and all that shit. This film is one of the most complex and mature and nuanced narratives I’ve seen come out of Hollywood in a long time, and its take on class is pretty fucking robust. I haven’t even started about Cate Blanchett and the incredible performance that holds the whole thing together. Nobody else could have done this, or if they could, Cate makes it look like they couldn’t. What an incredible performance and what an incredible movie. Honestly, fuck Manhattan, and I think probably fuck Annie Hall too. This is the one that’s going to stick with me for the rest of my life.

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2 responses to “Blue Jasmine (USA, 2013)

  1. Pingback: List of Judgements, Anno Domini 2016 | Offhand Reviews·

  2. Pingback: Love and Death on Long Island (Canada/UK, 1998) | Offhand Reviews·

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