Woody Allen has been experiencing a renaissance of talent recently, his other most recent film Midnight in Paris winning an Oscar for best original screenplay. Blue Jasmine measures up to the recent spate of success, imitating the feeling of movie that Allen had in the 80s - a moody, "existential" comedy that opens up new layers of exploring human feeling.
Blue Jasmine's title alludes to the recurring motif of the film: "Blue Moon," the song that is mentioned right at the beginning of the movie as what was playing when Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) fell in love with her rich socialite husband (Alec Baldwin). The scene is never shown, but only remembered and retold - a symbol for Jasmine's life, if there ever was one.
Jasmine's world has broken. Her husband, it turns out, was seriously dishonest, stealing significant amounts of money from innocent people to finance his and Jasmine's luxurious lifestyle in the Hamptons, Martha's Vineyard, and elsewhere. He is, of course, eventually caught in his own lies. Before the movie begins, the illusion has begun tumbling down around Jasmine's feet. The rest of the movie shows her left directionless and forlorn in a hostile world that sees her complicit in her husband's malfeasance.
The movie begins riding on the shockwave as it really begins to sink in to Jasmine that things are not going to go back to where they were. Blanchett plays the role expertly; she is broken, talking to herself, and utterly lost while simultaneously trying desperately to preserve appearances and survive on the remains of her enormous sense of self-importance. The simplest descriptor of her character is "fractured." She turns to her sister for help, going to San Francisco to live with her despite having alienated her and her sister's ex-husband by leading them to lose a huge investment with her husband.
Of course, difficulties arise, but that's not the point. It is a backdrop to trying to hear what is happening inside the soul of Jasmine. Is she being true to herself? What is going on inside? Those are precisely the questions to ask as you watch this film, immersing yourself in times of sympathy, laughter, and revulsion. Woody Allen's use of comedy plays on those feelings, painting a complex situation that leaves you with a real person - and one of the best movies of the summer.
My Rating: 8.5 out of 10.