After seeing Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine on July 9th a publicist asked me what I thought. Instead of posting a full-on review (which is difficult sitting at a Starbucks on Eighth Ave. at 6:05 pm with a 7pm screening to catch), I’m just going to post my response and fill things in later: “It’s a very good film that often sinks in, but it’s not a great one,” I began. “The Streetcar Named Desire parallels are obvious and abundant, but it also has its own flavor and motor and undercurrent. Blue Jasmine isn’t a tragedy — it’s an examination of the venality of the 1% by way of the personality and choices of one extremely fucked-up, vodka-slurping woman who’s adrift and panicking.
“Allen’s film is appropriately dispassionate in this regard, but there’s also something a wee bit cold and clinical about it. To a slight fault, I mean.
“Like many of Woody’s films Blue Jasmine feels like something that should have been refined and rewritten before going into production. If it had it could’ve been that much better. I was with it as far as it went. I’m not putting it down by calling it a B-plus level achievement for Woody. It’s fine. It’s just not A or A-plus-level.
“But there’s no question it’s a blazing, balls-out achievement for Cate Blanchett. She’s quite the wreck in this thing. Quite the disaster zone. And she gives one of those performances that won’t be brushed aside come Oscar nomination time. Well, it might be but a lot of people will be stunned if this happens.
“Almost everything works about Blue Jasmine except for the ending. The ending is the problem. Blanche Dubois was all of us in the sense that she preferred unreality to reality. She preferred music and poetry and baubles and Japanese lampshades over harsh reality and bare bulbs, and who among us doesn’t treasure those things over the raw banality of everyday life? But Blanchett’s Jasmine is a neurotic elitist and a phony who loathes everyday people, who is appalled at the idea of rubbing shoulders with the hoi polloi. She isn’t a tragic figure — she’s an aloof and pathetic figure because she can’t be honest with herself about who she was when she was married to Alec Baldwin‘s Bernie Madoff-like wheeler-dealer and who she is right now.
“And so seeing [redacted] at the very end isn’t the same as Blanche being led away to an asylum at the end of Streetcar because Blanche is a victim of having over-invested in her own fantasies and dreams, and Blanchett’s Jasmine is a one-percenter who has ridden along on a wave of denial while she was with her notorious ex. She’s a taker, and what she needs to do, at the very least, is acknowledge who and what she is and has been…at least that.
“Just as Anthony Quinn‘s Zampano in La Strada finally understands at the very end what a brute and a monster he had been to Guilietta Messina, Blanchett’s Jasmine needs to at least see and accept what she’s been and face who she really is. But Woody is seemingly consumed with disdain for her character and he won’t give her even that — he wants to see her suffering and lost and hopeless right to the end, without a shred of self-recognition or self-acceptance. That makes for an unsatisfying ending. It’s not a satisfying journey to see how wasted and close to crazy at the end. Even the most reprehnsible character needs to complete his /her journey and experience some form of discovery or resolution.
“Has this film been screened for Ruth Madoff?
“This complaint aside, BJ is a very good adult-pitched film with Blanchett more than earning her stripes as a Best Actress nominee.
“Side note: It’s interesting that Woody chose to use a CG jet in the beginning but he didn’t choose to CG-erase Blanchett’s under-arm perspiration stains. Don’t get me wrong — I like underarm perspiration stains. They convey a kind of integrity. It’s just that I said to myself when I saw the, “Well, (a) either the wardrobe person didn’t have time to give Blanchett a wardrobe change because Woody was in a hurry or (b) nobody cared one way or (c) Woody wanted the perspiration stains and perhaps even had them added with makeup or with CG…who knows?”