Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine is about a lady called Jasmine who is a little depressed. See what they did there? This is the Dirty Harry/Good Will Hunting school of film titling that in a different reality could have given us Crazy Norman, Fun Ferris or Hungry Hannibal. Speaking of missed opportunities Blue Jasmine features a superb central performance but it is in need of a much better film.

I have the same problem with Blue a Jasmine that I had with The Descendants last year; it is just too depressing. I appreciate that life can sometimes be terribly unfair, bad things happening to good people, and I feel for those that are affected by such events but I don’t need to see it on the big screen. Not when there is no pay off, no triumph over adversity, no redemption and no great character development. (Great characterisation, certainly but not great character development.)

There are people whose opinion I respect immensely that have described this as a wonderful film but I am afraid I cannot agree with them. It is a good film but it could easily have been so much better. It actually has two fantastic performances as it’s centre but if you took those away you would not be left with very much else.

We need to get to those performances. Cate Blanchett is just brilliant. Her portrayal of the title character is totally believable and utterly compelling, by turns subtle and grandstanding. It seems, for the second year running, we can be sure of one of the actresses that will win a golden statuette months before the nominations even come out (although don’t write off Sandra Bullock, her film is likely to gather greater awards momentum). Clearly Woody Allen deserves massive credit for directing and writing the character but this is Galadriel’s film.

Sally Hawkins is also brilliant though essentially making the film a two hander, most of the other characters being quite one dimensional. For several years Sally Hawkins has been one of those performers guaranteed to shine in any film she appears in. She was excellent in Made In Dagenham and Submarine and was highly memorable in An Education despite only being in it for a matter of minutes. She hits it out the park once again in Blue Jasmine and in fact her character almost had the more interesting story arc. I really hope she gets her time on the podiums come awards season too.

Blue Jasmine is worth seeing for Hawkins and Blanchett’s great acting and great characters just don’t expect anything else. Lots of people in the press are saying this is Woody Allen’s best film for years but I liked Midnight In Paris a lot more.

Is this one for the kids?

Blue Jasmine is a 12A and in some respects is actually more innocuous than most of the violent or sexy fare that gets that certificate but it is a film for adults with adult concerns.

Bechdel Test Score = 3

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4 thoughts on “Blue Jasmine

  1. I’m glad that we agree about the strength of the acting performances, although as you know I think the movie is great too. I expect this is unfair, but you seem to be disliking it because “it is just too depressing”. What did you think of Hamlet? Othello? King Lear? This film, like those plays (though I am not in any way saying the film compares with them in quality) is primarily a character study – in this case a study of the characters and personalities of the two sisters, and particularly the failure or inability of Jasmine to face reality, and the consequences that character flaw has for those around her.

    1. I clearly acknowledge that this is a personal preference thing and just because I don’t like something it doesn’t mean that it has no value but I do not enjoy watching the common problems of normal people played out on screen. I have no issue at all with films that are sad or depressing but I want some kind of pay off. This either means that the circumstances the people are living through need to be so extreme that it is rewarding just to see them survive it, like in Schindler’s List (that is a pretty depressing film) or they need to show great strength of character by rising above the odds and showing life that they will not give up. Either that or it just ends so tragically that it has a kind of bitter sweet beauty to it. Jasmine in this film does not handle her situation well and is no better or worse off by the end of the film than she is at the beginning. She is a pathetic and selfish character who is hard to sympathise with. Even then this would not matter if the film excelled in other areas, the cinematography or the script. To be fair the script is good but to address your examples, it is no Shakespeare. Incidentally, I don’t find Hamlet, Othello or King Lear even mildly depressing. As I say though, this is just a personal preference. Blue Jasmine is not a bad film by any stretch and I can completely understand why other people might love it so much, especially with that central performance that is just staggering.

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