“Blue Jasmine” is a tribute to how difficult and even impossible it is to be honest sometimes. This movie is not just a case study into a wealthy woman’s fall from grace when she and her white-color con husband (Alec Baldwin) lose their Park Avenue lifestyle due to his money laundering schemes. Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) plays coy the entire movie, and after she moves to San Francisco to start a new life living with her less than glamorous sister Ginger, she continually represses her knowledge of her late husband’s illegal activities (he committed suicide in prison), continually announcing herself as a victim of this terrible circumstance that has landed her homeless, moneyless, jobless and lost. At one point she attempts to better her situation by working as a dental assistant to pay her way through computer classes so she can start an online degree certification for her independent business as an interior designer. You feel her identity slowly building even behind her overwhelming addiction to Xanax and Vodka. However, she backpedals after meeting an attractive and most importantly to her wealthy widower (Peter Sarsgaard). She is not honest with him; she will not divulge her checkered past. Instead, he falls in love with her projected self, an image of a woman she believes she should be: a wealthy New York City interior designer widow of a plastic surgeon.
This movie is a very intimate portrayal of a neurotic woman continually repressing reality because of her inability to be honest with herself and the people around her. She plays dumb to her late-husband’s illegal lifestyle and continually defends her complete ignorance of his business activities. We slowly find out through flashbacks of her then Park Avenue lifestyle that she must have known about his business because she was the reason he went to jail. After Jasmine finds out her husband has been cheating on her for years, and will be leaving her for his mistress, Jasmine calls the FBI, and we can only assume she is calling to discuss her husband’s illegal business ventures. We realize that Jasmine isn’t being honest with anyone, not even herself, and the lie she has lived since the moment she ditched college to marry this man is aiding in her psychological downfall.
In the end Jasmine is exactly where she left off after her husband was incarcerated: completely alone. She finds her recovering addict step-son working in San Francisco at a record store. As she tries to reconcile with him, he has no interest in her pathological identity and even blames her completely for their family’s downfall. She leaves distraught, goes home only to continue her charade by proclaiming to her sister and her fiancé Chile that she will be moving out that afternoon to her fiancé’s mansion, even though he has just broken off their engagement after realizing Jasmine’s dishonesty about her past and current situation. At that moment watching a disheveled Jasmine frantically drink vodka in her sweaty Chanel dress, it is almost impossible to tell if Jasmine herself realizes she is lying. She has been living a false livelihood since her marriage 20 years ago to a man that lived his existence as a grifting con-man. Rather than admitting her faults, she allows her neurosis to overcome her being, and in the last scene we see a drenched, wet and psychotic Jasmine suffering a mental breakdown at a public park as she vocally relives a scene from her past. Moments and memories from her former life will continue to haunt her present existence until she becomes honest with herself.
To be honest, I’m not always honest. However, I do see a difference from disclosing truths from loved ones that are not necessary to be known in the first place, and actually living an entire existence based on a false foundation. Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” is a tragedy to watch, but we do not feel bad for Jasmine; you cannot feel bad for someone so aware of their misfortunes, yet so reluctant in admitting sole accountability for all the distress. Woody Allen shows that honesty is not a virtue, it’s a privilege.
I saw “Blue Jasmine” at BAM, check it out!
- Blue Jasmine (2013) (canadiancinephile.com)
- Film review – ‘Blue Jasmine’ (bathurstmovieloversblog.wordpress.com)
- Blue Jasmine: Another Rorschach Test (morehastohappen.com)
- The Rich Narcissist – Woody Allen’s Latest Target (psychologytoday.com)
- BAM Blog (Brooklyn Academy of Music Blog)