Posted by: greercn | October 2, 2013

Blue Jasmine

Seedy and repellent moral values lie at the ugly heart of Woody Allen’s latest in the prolific writer/director’s more than 70 screen works.

Yes, Cate Blanchett will probably win an Oscar for her edge-of-a-breakdown turn as Jasmine.

Sally Hawkins also deserves huge plaudits for her role as Jasmine’s sister, Ginger.

Why seedy and repellent? With so much female sunshine on offer, shouldn’t I be doing a little feminist dance, in comfy flat shoes? After all, the men here are gross caricatures and – at best – accessories.

First, I am troubled by Allen’s usual and insulting assumption that the rich are rich and the poor are poor because that’s how it’s supposed to be. That’s actually counter to the American dream, but that doesn’t make it right.

It’s bathed in a consumer goods-led image of reality. I just hate the whole set of ideas on parade here.

Second, nobody seems capable of fidelity. Perhaps that’s realistic and adult, but to me it’s plainly icky.

Third, Jasmine is drinking and prescription-drugging her way to even more craziness, yet nobody says “just stop that, now”.

And don’t get me started on Allen’s peculiar views on adoption, what’s truly meant to be and our collision courses to doom. If this is a comedy, I’ll eat my only designer hat.

A day after seeing it, I am still deeply depressed that this ghastly vision of modern America is passing for “adult sophistication” and “a return to form”.

Doesn’t anyone else in the world see it as just plain nasty? Underneath the veneer of sophistication, the designer clothes, the fat children and the thin adults, there’s a class war going on in the real world in the shape of the 99% and the Occupy movements.

Our Woody just ignores the reality and paints unpleasant people behaving in ways that should call for revolution. Off with their heads, at minimum.

The script is clever, in that brittle New York way that is sarcastic at the expense of others. Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Michael Stuhlbarg and Peter Sarsgaard are all superb in their caricatured roles and Alec Baldwin corners the market as the mean and rich guy.

One scene – in which Jasmine confronts her stepson – almost points to redemption, but meanders around the loss of a Hermes bag without resolution.

Plot? Jasmine was rich. Jasmine is now poor and has to go stay with her sister, Ginger, in San Francisco in an apartment that is about the size of her old NYC shoe closet.

Here’s an opportunity to say meaningful phrases about starting again when you are older. Yet everyone here is so flawed that you never really care about what’s happening to them. For a film with so much jazz in it, it sure lacks soul.

Rarely have I been so angry with a movie I enjoyed while I was watching it. I want to scream and scream because so much here is wrong and just plain sad.

I will never enjoy hearing “Blue Moon” again.

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Responses

  1. The cast was just superb, really carrying this movie when Woody seemed to fall-asleep with his direction. Especially Blanchett who may be looking at a well-deserved Oscar nomination for herself. Good review Greer.

  2. Thank you! I still find the film leaves a nasty taste in my mouth. I guess I like the possibility of redemption and happier outcomes.

  3. you have a designer hat?

    • Just the one. I bought it for a wedding I went to, many years ago and it gets brought out, very occasionally.

  4. And then there’s this – Why do almost all the native San Franciscans in this movie have accents that you only hear in the New York metropolitan area? I mean, could a British director get away with setting a film in Cardiff and have the cast all sound like Glaswegians? Very distracting and kind of strange ……….

    • So true. But Woody’s London-set films have a whole lot of anomalies, including poor people taking black cabs. Woody’s London is a little chim chim cheree – and I guess his universe is centred around a few blocks of NYC. Thanks for a good comment!


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