“Blue Jasmine” is the third film Woody Allen has shot in San Francisco, The first two were “Take The Money and Run” in 1969 and “Play It Again, Sam” in 1972. I was born in San Francisco in 1969, 44 years ago and “Blue Jasmine” is Allen’s 44th film he has directed. You can imagine my excitement to see this movie filmed in my hometown.
I have taken my mom to the last five Woody Allen films, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” was my favorite until seeing “Blue Jasmine” and yes, my mom agrees.
Cate Blanchett plays Jasmine, a fortyish blond beauty who once ruled the New York social roost as the wife of billionaire financier Hal (Alec Baldwin) and has now been reduced to disgrace with the collapse of her husband’s empire and his suicide in prison.
When first seen, Jasmine is on a plane headed to San Francisco, but her ultimate destination is a small apartment in the Mission district where she’ll stay with her sister Ginger (the very talented Sally Hawkins). Biologically, they aren’t actually related, as both were adopted from different sets of birth parents, with Jasmine drawing the winning genetic hand on all departments. Needing a drink in her hand at all times, Jasmine confesses to have had a nervous breakdown and is still experiencing persistent aftershocks, insisting that she can’t be alone.
Jasmine’s current Tennessee Williams-like fragility is effectively contrasted with and foreshadowed by incisive flashbacks to her Manhattan lifestyle, where she may have been neurotic but was also massively pampered by her husband and felt in control of her glamorous world.
Having no reason to be suspicious of her husband’s business practices, she also turned a blind eye to the smooth operator’s extramarital affairs. Jasmine was utterly blindsided when her house of cards fell apart.
The New York interludes are entertaining and to the point, illustrating Hal’s fast-shuffling business dealings on the one hand and Jasmine’s self-absorbed obliviousness on the other.
The San Francisco scenes underscore how the chaos and combativeness triggered by the working-class men in Ginger’s orbit frustrates Jasmine. Not that being left alone would be any better, far from it for this woman whose whole world has vanished overnight, leaving her hanging by the most slender thread.
Possible salvation finally turns up in the form of Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), a debonair diplomat and widower whose amorous attentions are as sincere as Jasmine’s needs are desperate.
The conclusion is startling and feels entirely right.
Allen’s film-per-year with original screenplays is unrivaled and enormously impressive. Allen knows how to write for women. Since 1977, sixteen performances have earned Oscar nominations for acting. Dianne Weist has won twice. She won for best supporting actress in “Hannah and Her Sisters” and “Bullets Over Broadway”.
This is Sally Hawkins second time working with Allen. She starred in “Cassandra’s Dream” in 2007 with Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hawkins wins best supporting actress at next year’s Academy Awards. You don’t have to be a Woody Allen fan to enjoy “Blue Jasmine.” You will enjoy this film for the acting and well-written story and the awesome scenes shot in San Francisco.