Our lives are under the control of not us, but our emotions. We find our lovers to make ourselves feeling fulfilled and we find the jobs we want to experience satisfaction. Even if nothings perfect, we all look for the right outlet to at least find some bit of happiness. Take your case to the alcoholics; they will simply claim that their demon in a bottle is nothing more then as escape to paradise. I myself want to compose a beautiful melody of sensibility by writing out my film reviews, and having control over the expressions of whether or not I liked it. If it all came great, I find my happiness.
So looking at media that relies on emotion, we need to go into the ones that have better characters then story. This little tactic can be pointed to one of the more interesting writer/directors in town, Woody Allen. I’ll admit that I have not seen too much of his work, but I’m fully aware that he tends to put characters over story. And I’m fine with that because sometimes that’s all a movie really needs, the life of an interesting character. Allen now gives his audience a woman named Jasmine to follow in his latest, Blue Jasmine.
Jasmine Francis (played by Cate Blanchett) had just gotten through a bad marriage with a multimillionaire named Hal Francis (played by Alec Baldwin). She had gotten very used to the rich, Yuppie New Yorker lifestyle so much that even when she had hear rumors from her step sister Ginger (played by Sally Hawkins) and then husband Augie (played by Andrew Dice Clay), she kept herself in denial. One Hal announced to Jasmine that he would be leaving her, she got revenge by exposing him to the FBI for his years as a crooked financer. He ends up hanging himself, with Jasmine having no money, no husband and no place to go.
She makes her way to San Francisco to try and pick up again with Ginger. Most of her friends and family are mad at her for knowing that Hal took all of their money, and their dreams with it. Despite having plans to go back to school, Jasmine has become emotionally unstable, resulting in having episodes where she ends up talking to herself, even in public. As neurotic as she is, Jasmine intends on trying to find herself without her money, even if it means finding somebody else who does have the green.
As I said, Woody Allen has a way of writing better characters then story. Blue Jasmine follows that tactic by providing some very good people. Most of them have problems, but at least makes them happy where they are. Its Jasmine whose actually the evil one here. Cate Blanchet gives a great performance of a woman who is stuck in her “woe is me” attitude. At times you wanna feel sorry for her, but then again, when her bad actions come back into the plot, you then realize why she does not deserve anything.
Sally Hawkins is a well-rounded Shelly Duvall-like actress who really adds more to Ginger, playing her as tough with no nonsense, yet not a stick in the mud. Another favorite of mine goes out to Andrew Dice Clay who can actually carry on a blue-collar man trying to look good in a higher-class environment, yet later to only resent the lifestyle when Hal takes him for everything. The actors are all great.
Woody Allen must be in the middle of a giant post card vacation, as his last several movies have taken him around these cities and making these movie love letters about them. San Francisco gets it’s turn as the foggy beaches and the majestic bay views show up really well.
If I found fault here, it’s the editing. Like his previous To Rome with Love, the transitions from modern times to flashbacks are clumsy. Just as your settling in to see Jasmine take another computer class, it cuts to her enjoying her life in the Hamptons with Hal. Not that I don’t want to see Jasmines former lifestyle, I just wished it had a better flow then this. Maybe it’s time for Woody Allen to hire a better editor. They don’t happen for long, but it’s annoying whenever it does.
I’ll give this four half consumed cocktail drinks out of five. Blue Jasmine’s weak editing and soap opera-like story is saved by some killer characters and great actors to play them. A true step in the right direction for Mr. Allen. Maybe his next one will be even better.