Mon 17 Feb 2014
Some of the latest films of Woody Allen seem so much taken out of life that you have the feeling that Woody’s camera caught a point in time when the story started and left the story at another point in time, but these two could have been any other. Life is as it is, Woody just starts to put it on screen at some point in time, and stops the camera at another, maybe when he runs off digital storage (there is no real film nowadays to run off, right?). This is more or less the feeling with ‘Blue Jasmine’ as well, with the difference that there are two stories here. Or better said to mental plans his character (acted by Cate Blanchett) oscillates between. The story starts in one of them (the world socialite Jasmine French just fell from) and ends in another – the cruel reality which her life became and which he has trouble to accept and adapt in.
Good films can be watched in different keys and receive different interpretations for viewers. So is the case for Blue Jasmine which can be seen as a psychological study of a woman in denial or a social commentary about differences between the classes and their mentalities, as a docu-drama inspired by the Madoff case, a comedy or a melodrama or a modern tragedy of alienation. It is maybe a little bit or more from each of these, but is first of all another good film of Woody Allen – one in the series closer to the reality, and here we deal with the American reality which he returns to film after three of his consecutive yearly films made in Europe. The overall tone seems to be a little more to the sour side, and we feel this not only in the way the story develops but also in the manner it is told and edited. The dixieland music that sets the tone of Woody’s Allen reminding us that we entered a cinema theater and we shall be watching shades on a wall does not last beyond the minute of introduction. Reality follows, or at least a version of reality extracted, processed and given back to us by the script and the director.
Cate Blanchett cannot do wrong and I have a hard time deciding whether her creation in ‘Blue Jasmine’ deserves to receive the Academy Award, or it’s rather Meryl Streep’s work in ‘August: Osage County’. Can’t they really give two statues this year ex-aequo? Her Jasmine has built a world of illusions and lived in it, illusions as solid and lasting as long as the speculative operations of her husband lasts. There is however more in her character, as she has her own part of guilt and she seems not only unable to cope with any dose of reality but also self-distructive and dangerous to all she touches and to people she comes in contact with. The amazing thing is that as viewers we and by understanding her and by sympathizing with the screen of lies she builds around herself. Don’t we all do this one way or another when we have to face realities we do not like and problems that we do not know how to solve? Jasmine just goes far, much to far …