Blue Jasmine (2013), by Woody Allen
Woody Allen is an expert at portraying his own narratives. The humour of his films is magnificent, addressing issues such as psychoanalysis, the meaning of life, the obsession with death, paranoia. With these elements, he has built throughout his career an endless list of remarkable characters, including himself when working as an actor.
Despite having ventured into Europe, his fascination with Manhattan is contagious, revealing its singularities in perfect harmony with the characters, exploring the stunning scenery of New York, an almost unique world with a life where time flies. Annie Hall (1977), Manhattan (1979) and Hannah and Her Sisters (1986) are some of his striking works, where New York is the backdrop.
In 2013, he directed Blue Jasmine in San Francisco, a superb film, where we see a new facet of Allen: the wicked and cruel side of human nature.
Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) is a complex and tremendously unhappy woman. The less attentive can quickly jump into simplistic judgments. She manages to ascend to a social class she had never dreamed of, into a futile and prejudice-filled universe.
But Jasmine is anything but futile. Inside her lives a consented alienation, before a weighty past she can’t forget. And so she pretends not to know; she pretends not to hear; she pretends not to see; she pretends to be the archetype of the perfect woman, part of a fringe of an elitist society, drenched in tics and “emptiness”.
Her biggest “sin” was trying to be happy (isn’t that the goal of all of us?). What is the difference between her and her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins), both adopted? Ginger may arouse some compassion for being poor and humble. At one point, her sister mentions that “Jasmine has always had better genes (…)”. Ginger also tries to achieve a better life at all costs.
Jasmine is fully aware of her inner turmoil, where chaos sets in atypical normality, dragging her into a vicious circle. Jasmine is a character we can easily identify ourselves with, when faced with extreme situations.
Cate Blanchett is the essence of the film. A remarkable interpretation, depicting with great realism the different states of mind, between delusions, frustrations, anxieties, so intense that result in a meteoric explosion, much to the viewer’s delight. She won several awards, including an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA in the category of Best Leading Actress in 2014.
Blue Jasmine is much more than a social portrait of frivolous habits. It represents the moral collapse of modern times. Allen adopts a different approach, the most innovative of his career.
There was no room for the customary laughter, replaced with a less ironic and more unsettling reflection.