Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine is not worthy of a Golden Globe
As I sat in a cosy small Indie cinema in the dark waiting for the film to start, I was struck by the strangest sense of déjà vu...
‘Will this be another lack lustre Woody Allen film or a hidden gem?’
It’s quite easy to deduce that now.
Woody Allen has been working in the film industry for almost 50 years now, but the past decade has seen a distinct decline in the ingenuity of his films.
The characters are not as fresh and insightful as they were during his early years and most critics believe that his ‘stammering, neurotic vision of New York’ has become stale. This could be one of the reasons why he has decidedly shot most his recent films in Europe.
Midnight in Paris (2011) was a very critically acclaimed and enjoyable film while his next picture To Rome with Love (2012) was a flop that failed to engage the audience.
Blue Jasmine (2013) is unfortunately another bad film.
Warning: some spoilers ahead
The film takes place in New York where Jasmine (Cate Blanchet), a New Yorker socialite embarks on a journey to San Francisco to meet her step sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins).
Jasmine has been known for talking to herself quite often. While travelling first class in an airplane, she forcefully engages an elderly woman into a discussion about her private life and talks about her extraordinary times with her ex-husband Hal (Alec Baldwin), a wealthy, suave businessman who swept her right off her feet. Unfortunately for Jasmine, those days are over.
Jasmine is broke and homeless at the moment. She travels to San Francisco to stay at her sister, Ginger’s place till she can get back on her feet again. The film runs back and forth with Jasmine’s past self with Hal and the present where she complains about everything in sight. In one of the scenes, Ginger is seen complaining to her children,
“Jasmine always had the good genes; she was always the favourite in the family”
It is later revealed that Hal was a fraud businessman who conned Jasmine and ran away with her money. He was also cheating on her with at least four different women during that period of time.
Strangely enough, Jasmine is still optimistic about her future and waits for another ‘Hal’ to sweep her off her feet once again. Except for Ginger, everyone else, particularly Ginger’s ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) believes Jasmine to be a narcissistic uptown woman who is only exploiting Ginger for her own selfish motives.
As things progress, Jasmine decides to study interior design but lacks any motive to do so.
And why not?
Beautiful women don’t need to slave themselves when they could very easily find a wealthy husband.
She occasionally sneers at Ginger for dating a sleazy mechanic called Chili (Bobby Cannavale). Predictably, later in the film, Jasmine is approached by a suave, handsome congressman Dwight (Peter Sarsgaad) who has wholesome intentions of making her his wife. But it is then that the dark past of Jasmine is fully revealed to the viewers.
The movie has a convoluted plot with many throw away set pieces.
It does not come as a surprise that Blue Jasmine fails to engage the viewer with Jasmine’s life story. Without a doubt, she is one of the most repulsive characters Woody Allen has ever come up with, surpassing Judah Rosenthal from Crimes and Misdemeanours (1989), -- but unlike Rosenthal, Jasmine is not one who you would love to hate.
As far as Jasmine’s character goes, she is dull and lacks charisma.
It is unfortunate that the story has to linger around her character as it could’ve been a better film with Ginger as the lead; Sally Hawkins does a marvellous job portraying her. But then again, it would have been a different or maybe a better film altogether.
The story lacks depth and empathy due to the abundance of characters that never fully develop throughout its 98 minutes run time.
Famous stand-up comedian Louis CK makes a cameo appearance in the film as Ginger’s lover but is quickly tossed aside with an unreasonable explanation.
Alec Baldwin is only caste to display Jasmine’s lavish lifestyle of her past and something to understand her better with.
As the title suggests, this is a film about its main protagonist, Jasmine but the feeling of never really getting to know her is prevalent throughout the film.
Sure, she is a deplorable, spoiled, rich brat who has no idea how real life functions, but is that punch line enough to support this comedy?
Once or twice, one might find the opportunity to smile or giggle but those moments are few and far between. Woody Allen had recruited a very talented cast for this movie but there is very little they can do to save this poorly thought out film.
Although I admire Woody Allen, who continuously produces films every year or so, it is clear that he has somehow lost touch with the changing face of American cinema and humour.
Watching Blue Jasmine in the current times seems to be an utterly out-dated movie which lacks any form of excitement or drama that his previous films of the past had captured.
Perhaps its time for the master of neurosis to call it quits...
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