Cate Blanchett’s performance as Jasmine, who had been married to a very wealthy, Bernie Madoff-type businessman Hal (a smooth and slick Alec Baldwin,) living a life as the beautiful Park Avenue socialite wife entertaining, doing charity work, and filling her time with Yoga and Pilates is vapidly inconsistent. We are subject to constant flashbacks of her former luxurious life then, contrasted with her penniless life “now,” – before and after the collapse of her seemingly “idyllic high-style” marriage. We are made privy very earlier in the movie, to Jasmine’s histrionic and melodramatic fall from grace. Her excessive drinking, her devouring pills with an avariciously bumbling urgency, all dramatic gestures that imply desperation were repeated over and over again - a view of psychic disintegration that was hackneyed and tired – a picture of nervous collapse pigeonholed into burlesque.
Personally I did not give a damn about any of the characters...except Jasmine’s sweet, good-natured sister Ginger – a natural and beautiful performance by Sally Hawkins who picks “working class” guys as her partners – her taste in men being the opposite of her arrogant condescending sister. Many of the reviewers of BLUE JASMINE spoke about a Tennessee William’s Streetcar Named Desire subtext to this film – I think that interpretation is superficial, and another indication of Woody Allen’s trivialization of the “rank and file” laborer. Just because Bobby Cannavale (who is an actor I loved in THE STATION MASTER) wears cutoff tee-shirts, is muscled up with slicked back hair and has a temper, does not make him Stanley Kowalski; or a fragile Cate Blanchett descending into her interior world of the past, make her Blanche Du Bois. Instead I saw Woody Allen propagating a boilerplate view of class through dialects and visuals that were imitative and unimaginative.
Relationships between siblings, heedless gratification of desire, and the cynical view of the battle of the sexes are always prevalent in Woody Allen’s films. I hope I get to see one soon which is genuine, fresh and authentic. I thought BLUE JASMINE might fulfill those criteria– I was dispiritedly mistaken.