In keeping with a most laudable, moreover prolific annual tradition, Mr. Woody Allen’s latest feature adeptly profiles one Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) as her Ponzi scheming husband’s recent imprisonment triggers an emotional downward spiral. Forced to retreat to her adopted sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) modest San Francisco apartment to recuperate, the details surrounding Jasmine’s fall from ever-luxurious grace begin unraveling along with her already deteriorating psyche. Begrudgingly but not fully transitioning, Jasmine continually butts heads with those deemed unworthy of her all-consuming narcissism, every day proving to be a struggle as the allure of the life she once had increases in detrimental toxicity.
Honing in on us humans’ susceptibility to accept the love we think we deserve, Blanchett’s Jasmine, although adopted, frequently hints at her favorable upbringing – more specifically one that rarely involved the word “no” as part of a perpetuated cycle of negative reinforcement. On the cusp of obtaining her college degree, Jasmine’s desired fairy tale lifestyle is kickstarted by self-made millionaire Hal (Alec Baldwin), a smooth (if morally bankrupt) operator that sweeps his wife-to-be off her feet almost immediately. Through flashbacks and the like, Blue Jasmine rhythmically recaps the couple’s higher times as a well-to-do pair of ignorant, well-dressed materialists that are gratingly indifferent toward those lower on the socioeconomic totem pole.
Highlighting Allen’s penchant for pairing dynamic characters with equally dynamic human drama, an assumed inclination to hate Jasmine isn’t as easy to acquire as you think, the titular female’s demeanor remaining partially justified as we at least hope for a much-needed turnaround. Each interaction between key players is as involving as the next, the script remaining alternately insightful and straightforward in its depiction of a frazzled, lonely woman at the end of her rope, broken and disillusioned by such a sudden drop-off in status. From one unhealthy, booze-soaked attempt to assimilate with middle-class semi-socialites to the next, tensions frequently steam to a boil as events unfold – ones that assuredly can’t help matters any for all involved.
A predictably incisive and well-acted character study, Blue Jasmine is yet another high point in Allen’s often illustrious career. Purposefully uncomfortable as it engages via Jasmine’s tragically infectious egotism, the film all-too-competently paints a portrait of such an awfully affected individual. As simple yet intelligent the proceedings may be in their focus on Allen-esque, seriocomic humanism, Blue Jasmine is hands down one of the most thoughtfully constructed films of the year, endlessly thriving thanks to a great cast and far from slack artistic sensibilities.