Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Blue Jasmine

Extreme aspiration in its most cosmopolitan and materialistic forms is the substance of Blue Jasmine. Self-invention is what makes the wheels of commerce run and yet it’s the dark side of the American dream. In Blue Jasmine Woody Allen has entered a new phase of his career in which he becomes an American Zola, also calling up the spirit of Wharton’s House of Mirth, a novel that deals with an abject woman who had a taste of something better. In its tale of financial malfeasance, Blue Jasmine also partakes of some headline grabbing that  hearkens back to Dreiser’s An American Tragedy, which was based on a news story. Allen looks with an almost surgical eye at the ugliest side of the urge to rise which is painted as a highly contagious virus crossing class lines. Social elevation and sexual desire work in tandem as symptoms of the soul sickness Allen describes. Ginger (Sally Hawkins) and Jasmine (Cate Blanchette) are two adopted sisters who don’t share the same genes. Jasmine, tall and blond, has a classic aristocratic look and poise that enable her to engineer her ill-fated marriage to a corrupt financier, but Ginger is no less immune, in her desire to strive for something better. “You can tell a lot about people when you look in their mouths,” a dentist named Dr. Flicker (Michael Stuhlbarg) says at one point. The comment is a parody of the notion of insight, in a film where appearance plays such a huge role in the way judgments of character are made. But the key to the movie may lie in Jasmine’s depiction of her husband Hal’s (Alec Baldwin’s) suicide. “It wasn’t strangulation,” she says of his hanging himself in his cell. “Your neck snaps.” What she's describing is not a slow suffocating death, but something more violent. In Blue Jasmine. the world of illusion pops like a pin pricking a balloon. Andrew Dice Clay, who plays Ginger’s first husband Augie, steals the show from the slick Alec Baldwin and it’s a form of poetic justice. The lack of social graces of both the actor and the character he plays receive their just reward in the topsy-turvy universe of Allen’s tale of downward mobility.


  1. The world renowned Hollywood director, Woody Allen has decided not to screen his latest movie Blue Jasmine in India as the standoff between the director and the Censor board could't find a consensus on putting Warning against Cigarette consumption. The American Bazaar, an Indian American online newspaper reported the story. http://www.americanbazaaronline.com/2013/10/08/cigarette-smoke-blue-jasmine-woody-allen-decides-mix-two-india/

    I don't think a caution in the movie can change the habit of smoking? And moreover I don't believe that movies, in India, have earned a status to make changes in an individuals personal life?

  2. Hi, thanks for writing in. I’m very much opposed to smoking, even if some of the great minds of the past--a classic photo of Albert Camus has a cigarette dangling from his mouth--smoked. But I agree about putting the warning in the film. I think you can’t make disclaimers in works of art. For instance, are we supposed to put warning about the dangers of AIDS every time a prostitute is portrayed in a movie? That would be an intrusion on the verisimilitude and the an impediment to the willing suspension of disbelief.


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