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This Is Northern New South Wales

Blue Jasmine: Mid-Life Meltdown

Remind me never to date a Jewish girl.

At least, that’s the message coming loud and clear straight out of that birthplace of truth, Hollywood. They may be cute, they may be quirky and they may be the absolute loveliest of people, but the quagmire of neuroses they seem to drag along with them in their five-piece Vuitton ensemble is just too much to bare.

Segue to Blue Jasmine, the latest in Woody Allen’s almanac of screen offerings. Now, I always used to say, nay, categorically state that I didn’t like Woody Allen films. I don’t really know how this came about, having never really immersed myself in Annie Hall, Manhattan or Mighty Aphrodite. But, however my blind prejudice arose, Blue Jasmine is causing some serious re-evaluation.

Blue Jasmine: Alcoholic, Moi?

Cate Blanchett is a mess. The eponymous lead character into which she has poured herself has been to hell and back. From the pinnacle of New Yorkian socialite status, she has fallen from grace and hit pretty much very jagged boulder and prickly shrub on the way down. Her multi-millionaire husband Hal (played to sleazy, conniving perfection by Alec Baldwin) has garnished her with every conceivable gift, perk and benefit of the über rich and she has basked in all its radiance and grandeur. But, as we learn through flashbacks as the film, and Jasmine’s sanity, unravels, all is not as it seems. Laundering, scamming and  shystering his way to the top, Hal has built a house of cards in a wind tunnel and, sure enough, his empire collapses, taking all Jasmine’s dreams, possessions, home and lifestyle with it.

Added to this indignity, she discovers that he has been having a swathe of widely recognised affairs for almost the entirety of their marriage.

Forced to move to San Francisco to live with her foster-sister, Ginger, Jasmine is forced back into work as a dental receptionist. Ginger’s two-bed is also a far cry from the million dollar mansion to which she had become accustomed, and the assortment of lower class, blue collarites she is forced to associate with are a far cry from her nouveau riche former social scene.

In her highly judgmental, discriminatory eyes, her life has gone down the gurgler without a snorkel. Her sister has what she considers a completely deadbeat boyfriend, barely a whisker better than her deadbeat ex-husband, who proceeds to arrange double-dates with his deadbeat friends at deadbeat clam shacks.

But Jasmine is her own worst enemy. The characters that enter her life-after-riches are real, genuine people with good hearts and honest intentions but, because they don’t drive Mercedes and aren’t clad in Prada, she shuns them without the slightest consideration. Added to that, when she does meet someone to which she can relate, she lies her way into his life, forming shaky groundings for a new relationship, to say the least.

Estranged sons, molesting dentists and an over-zealous penchant for Stolychnaya Martinis unite with her inherent neuroses to undermine any fragment of chance she may have of regaining a tangible grip on reality.

Cate Blanchett shuns her natural ethereal beauty to create a bedraggled, haggered alcoholic, one comment to a passing dog away from the loony bin. On the one hand, you feel sorry for her, having had her entire life stripped ungraciously from her, but she’s far to arrogant and self-righteous to take any genuine pity upon. Besides which, Blanchett’s fantastic acting makes the character’s sleights against family, friends and associates, as well as her social incompetence, hilarious to watch.

The audience is made to wince, suck teeth and laugh at her misfortune and tactless comments to create awkwardness in the most benign of moments. Jasmine epitomises the stuck up bitch in every way, but you can’t help but feel sorry for her. She has brought none of her misfortune upon herself to any significant degree and, from the moment she steps off her exquisitely parqueted floor in the Hamptons and onto her sister’s acrylic deep shag, you find yourself willing her to see sense, meet honest people and see the good beyond the Gucci.

Blue Jasmine: Welcome to Reality

She is difficult to like, but Jasmine evokes a sense of humility in the viewer, if only through her own bad example, and this creates an underlying message of ethics and acceptance to the film.

Although a little striated in places, Blue Jasmine is a very watchable movie, after you have got your head around its continual rebounding from past to present.

If your car’s up for rego but the credit card company is breathing down your neck, if the kids are screaming for lollies and video games, if your partner’s just dumped you for someone 20 years your junior (or even if you are healthy, happy, cashed up and loved up), go watch Blue Jasmine – your life will feel like a glorious cakewalk by comparison.



Review by: Tommy Leitch – | courtesy of Palace Cinemas. Byron Bay