New York socialite Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) finds herself out of luck and at the end of her tether after the death of her millionaire husband Hal (Alec Baldwin), so moves in to her adoptive sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) home in San Francisco.
Jasmine herself says “There are only so many traumas a person can stand before they take to the streets and start screaming”, and the Jasmine we meet has hit that point, having been found on the streets of New York talking to herself. Blue Jasmine is essentially a portrait of a woman trying to maintain self-deception against all the odds. It emerges throughout the film that Jasmine’s elegant exterior is all a façade, and the life she has led had been privileged but hollow. Even her name is a lie, with her sister’s husband Augie resolutely using her real name, Jeanette, as a kind of defiance against her pretence.
Ultimately this is entirely Cate Blanchett’s film. Her take on the damaged, nebulous Jasmine is stunning, if sometimes overly theatrical. However, this theatricality is a by-product of Allen’s directing and writing style. His dialogue is rarely naturalistic, so it was inevitable some scenes felt like Woody-Allen-by-numbers. While Blanchett’s performance is a tour-de-force the supporting cast are all excellent, with a couple of great performances from comedians Louis C.K. and Andrew Dice Clay as two of the men in Ginger’s life.
A riff on A Streetcar Named Desire, Blue Jasmine is darkly comic and compelling, but ultimately is an acting masterclass from Cate Blanchett.
4 out of 5