Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine is not worthy of a Golden Globe

Published: January 9, 2014
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It is clear that Woody Allen has somehow lost touch with the changing face of American cinema and humour. PHOTO: PUBLICITY

As I sat in a cosy small Indie cinema in the dark waiting for the film to start, I was struck by the strangest sense of déjà vu…

‘Will this be another lack lustre Woody Allen film or a hidden gem?’

It’s quite easy to deduce that now.

Source: IMDb

Woody Allen has been working in the film industry for almost 50 years now, but the past decade has seen a distinct decline in the ingenuity of his films.

The characters are not as fresh and insightful as they were during his early years and most critics believe that his ‘stammering, neurotic vision of New York’ has become stale. This could be one of the reasons why he has decidedly shot most his recent films in Europe.

Midnight in Paris (2011) was a very critically acclaimed and enjoyable film while his next picture To Rome with Love (2012) was a flop that failed to engage the audience.

Blue Jasmine (2013) is unfortunately another bad film.

Warning: some spoilers ahead

The film takes place in New York where Jasmine (Cate Blanchet), a New Yorker socialite embarks on a journey to San Francisco to meet her step sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins).

Jasmine has been known for talking to herself quite often. While travelling first class in an airplane, she forcefully engages an elderly woman into a discussion about her private life and talks about her extraordinary times with her ex-husband Hal (Alec Baldwin), a wealthy, suave businessman who swept her right off her feet. Unfortunately for Jasmine, those days are over.

Cate Blanchet as Jasmine. Source: IMDb

Jasmine is broke and homeless at the moment. She travels to San Francisco to stay at her sister, Ginger’s place till she can get back on her feet again. The film runs back and forth with Jasmine’s past self with Hal and the present where she complains about everything in sight. In one of the scenes, Ginger is seen complaining to her children,

“Jasmine always had the good genes; she was always the favourite in the family”

Cate Blanchet (Jasmine), Sally Hawkins (Ginger) and Andrew Dice Clay (Augie). Source: IMDb

It is later revealed that Hal was a fraud businessman who conned Jasmine and ran away with her money. He was also cheating on her with at least four different women during that period of time.

Strangely enough, Jasmine is still optimistic about her future and waits for another ‘Hal’ to sweep her off her feet once again. Except for Ginger, everyone else, particularly Ginger’s ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) believes Jasmine to be a narcissistic uptown woman who is only exploiting Ginger for her own selfish motives.

Sally Hawkins (Ginger) and Andrew Dice Clay (Augie). Source: IMDb

As things progress, Jasmine decides to study interior design but lacks any motive to do so.

And why not?

Beautiful women don’t need to slave themselves when they could very easily find a wealthy husband.

She occasionally sneers at Ginger for dating a sleazy mechanic called Chili (Bobby Cannavale). Predictably, later in the film, Jasmine is approached by a suave, handsome congressman Dwight (Peter Sarsgaad) who has wholesome intentions of making her his wife. But it is then that the dark past of Jasmine is fully revealed to the viewers.

Sally Hawkins (Ginger) with on-screen boyfriend Bobby Cannavale (Chili). Source: IMDb

The movie has a convoluted plot with many throw away set pieces.

It does not come as a surprise that Blue Jasmine fails to engage the viewer with Jasmine’s life story. Without a doubt, she is one of the most repulsive characters Woody Allen has ever come up with, surpassing Judah Rosenthal from Crimes and Misdemeanours (1989), — but unlike Rosenthal, Jasmine is not one who you would love to hate.

Cate Blanchet, Woody Allen and Alec Baldwin. Source: IMDb

As far as Jasmine’s character goes, she is dull and lacks charisma.

It is unfortunate that the story has to linger around her character as it could’ve been a better film with Ginger as the lead; Sally Hawkins does a marvellous job portraying her. But then again, it would have been a different or maybe a better film altogether.

Cate Blanchet (Jasmine). Source: IMDb

The story lacks depth and empathy due to the abundance of characters that never fully develop throughout its 98 minutes run time.

Famous stand-up comedian Louis CK makes a cameo appearance in the film as Ginger’s lover but is quickly tossed aside with an unreasonable explanation.

Alec Baldwin is only caste to display Jasmine’s lavish lifestyle of her past and something to understand her better with.

As the title suggests, this is a film about its main protagonist, Jasmine but the feeling of never really getting to know her is prevalent throughout the film.

Sure, she is a deplorable, spoiled, rich brat who has no idea how real life functions, but is that punch line enough to support this comedy?

Once or twice, one might find the opportunity to smile or giggle but those moments are few and far between. Woody Allen had recruited a very talented cast for this movie but there is very little they can do to save this poorly thought out film.

Alec Baldwin (Hal) and Cate Blanchet (Jasmine). Source: IMDb

Although I admire Woody Allen, who continuously produces films every year or so, it is clear that he has somehow lost touch with the changing face of American cinema and humour.

Watching Blue Jasmine in the current times seems to be an utterly out-dated movie which lacks any form of excitement or drama that his previous films of the past had captured.

Perhaps its time for the master of neurosis to call it quits…

Jibran.Khan

Jibran Khan

An independent filmmaker who has worked on numerous short films and has taught Film Theory at Szabist University. Currently he is studying Media Arts and Design at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany. Follow his Youtube channel at www.youtube.com/channel/UCwSdyPZ_htZng0Ec-2cmlgg

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Parvez

    Rather coincidental that I was discussing this film over breakfast today with my brother who was of a similar opinion that this was not one of Allens better works. But he thought it was a subtle reflection on the real life affair of the Bernie Madaoff scandal that took place 2 or 3 years back in the US.Recommend

  • roomi

    Its a brilliant film where Blanchett has given the performance of her life. The reviewer alas falls into the trap of most Pakistani reviewers who give the entire plot away rather than critiquing the film properly. Anyway I disagree with the reviewer as I found the film compelling and very engaging and very clever.Recommend

  • aaaaa

    SPOLERS FOLLOW

    This review is an exception, not the rule. For one thing, it scored a 91% at rotten tomatoes.

    “It is later revealed that Hal was a fraud businessman who conned Jasmine and ran away with her money.”

    No, he invested Ginger’s ex-husband’s money that the latter won in the lottery and then lost it. Jasmine has no money, just what she gets from Hal.

    “As far as Jasmine’s character goes, she is dull and lacks charisma.”

    Of course she is, thats the whole point. She’s a rich brat who has her comeuppance at the end when the other rich guy (the one running for office i think) dumps her, and as such she doesn’t get her way despite being beautiful and cultured. Thats the whole story arc.

    “Strangely enough, Jasmine is still optimistic about her future and waits for another”

    Why is this strange? She’s crazy, is on meds, can’t deal with the situation because it could never happen to her, and is in denial.

    “Sure, she is a deplorable, spoiled, rich brat who has no idea how real life functions, but is that punch line enough to support this comedy?”

    It isn’t just a comedy first of all. It isn’t even primarily a comedy. Scary Movie, thats a (bad) comedy. Hangover, thats a comedy. Blue Jasmine is a drama piece where the comedy takes a back seat and is employed to show the absurdity of Jasmine’s expectations even after everything that has happened. Even the comedy serves the larger purpose of this film as a drama. If you were expecting a lough out loud funny film, you were always going to be disappointed.

    “Watching Blue Jasmine in the current times seems to be an utterly out-dated movie…”

    In what way? Hal is epitome of what went wrong during the recession of 08 and him and Jasmine are emblematic of the inequality which exists in the US today. So how exactly is this out dated?

    Blue Jasmine might get the Oscar, what to say of Golden Globe, for best movie. And Cate Blanchett the nod for best actress. Thats how out there this review is.Recommend

  • ahsan kureshi

    All the reviewer wanted out of the movie was comedy. I suggest he should watch family guy if he wants laughs. There is alot more to Woody Allen movies, of how he portrays the dank nature of us human beings while depicting only the very obvious details of our common every-day lives. Blue Jasmine does justice to the same, though not with the strength of some earlier Woody Allen classics. Recommend

  • Jazz Razvi

    its a excellent film guys!!!Recommend

  • Steven Kaye

    Possibly one of the most asinine reviews I’ve read in a long time. Can you be any more lacking in discernment? You do know, don’t you, that this film has been highly acclaimed around the world and has done stellar business at the box office to boot. What are you going to do next? Tear “Hamlet” to shreds?Recommend

  • naseem ahmed

    “Utterly outdated”? It’s a Woody Allen film not Dhoom 3. Recommend

  • rotund

    You have no idea how idiotic this post was. That was an EXCELLENT movie. I’m sorry you couldnt enjoy it because there were no steamy Scarlet Johannson scenes. I assure you that despite that, the movie is absolutely worthy of every award it gets.Recommend

  • Shahrukh Khan

    seriously? Blue Jasmine is one of the finest movies of the year.It’s critically acclaimed world wide.91% on the rotten tomatoes – that’s the only answer I can give to your poor review. Its a brilliant film where Blanchett has given the performance of her life. Woody Allen grips the characters with an engaging plot. Stale? really? Woody Allen for the past 50 years has created a neurotic persona that is uniform in all of his films. & majority of them are a certified hit. From ‘sleeper’ to ‘crimes & misdemeanors’; he has played that same character almost every time & still the audience love his humor. lost his touch? yeah right. Have you watched ‘Midnight in Paris’? That’s a recent one Woody Allen produced & that movie is nothing short of magical. You can’t bash a particular genre of movie if you don’t have the stomach for it. Woody Allen’s movies have a genre of their own & no matter what they will always have a strict cult following.Recommend

  • Iftikhar Ali

    Kat Blanket was awesome, she nicely done that job.
    But the most funniest was when she called fbi to make her husband
    as their honorable guestRecommend

  • DMenace4U

    What a worthless review
    Recommend

  • Patrick

    I think you have completely misunderstood this film. I would list the reasons why, but saying ‘completely misunderstood’ means just that – you have misunderstood everything.Recommend

  • EPJ234

    Glad to see that most of these comments are in favor of the movie instead of this review. I thought the movie was spectacular and am astonished that anyone could view it so negatively, especially with regards to Blanchett (whose name is incorrectly spelled by the reviewer; there are two T’s at the end) and her character, Jasmine, who I find to be incredibly fascinating and one of Allen’s best characters. Unlike this reviewer, who opines there has been a “distinct decline in the ingenuity” of Allen’s films as the years have progressed, I think Allen and his movies have only gotten better with age. With “Blue Jasmine,” Allen has once again shown that he is an astute observer of modern society, as he invents characters of varying socioeconomic status who are brilliant reflections of individuals living in the 21st century. The screenplay is incredibly clever and innovative (I appreciate writers who are able to use the general architecture and construction of a previous medium, in this case, Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire,” and put their own spin on it to produce a new, original work), and the acting is first class. It is not at all a bad film. From a technical standpoint, it is nearly flawless. And what perplexes me most is that this reviewer seems to conclude that Jasmine is a bad character because she is not necessarily likable. A character ought not be evaluated based on their likability, but rather their depth and complexity, of which Jasmine is fraught. It seems to me that a true film scholar would be able to recognize the many significant and impressive qualities of “Blue Jasmine.” To provide a quote from Allen’s 1977 film “Annie Hall”: “How you [reviewer] got to teach a course in anything is totally amazing!”Recommend

  • Nobody

    Youch. People really need to work on learning to criticize constructively as opposed to spewing out vitriolic commentary.
    More to the point, haven’t yet seen the movie, but it’s on my list as I admire Cate Blanchett.
    Cheers.Recommend

  • a

    Awful review. Also, for the record “To Rome With Love” was a worldwide financial success.Recommend

  • Abdullah

    Very disappointing review. The movie was terrific and so was Cate’s acting..Recommend

  • James C

    Although I agree that the film is far from Allen’s best but, this awful written review overshadows the point the reviewer is making. Allen has many duds and even more Shining Stars. Not everyone likes every one of his movies which is fine. I wonder if the reviewer felt empowered pondering whether Allen should call it quits. Sad really.Recommend

  • Lafollette

    A Golden Globe? Isn’t worth a Golden Globe? That’s like saying a kid isn’t worthy of a participation trophy (except you can’t buy a participation trophy).Recommend

  • Kirsten

    One of the best films I’ve seen i years…decades… did Khan maybe get this movie mixed up with something he saw after waking up on the couch from a late, late show on tv?Recommend

  • Hass

    Also you may want to
    watch a film closely (preferably a couple of times before you sit down to write
    a review).

    “The film takes
    place in New York where Jasmine”

    No it doesn’t take
    place in NY, only some of the flashbacks are in NY.”

    “It is later
    revealed that Hal was a fraud businessman who conned Jasmine and ran away with
    her money.”

    Lol what, did you
    even see the film? She called the FBI on him, he didn’t run away anywhere.
    During their confrontation scene, Hal’s
    character even says he will take care of her financially even if they are
    separated.

    “The movie has
    a convoluted plot with many throw away set pieces”.

    I hope you never
    watch Inception.

    “Famous
    stand-up comedian Louis CK makes a cameo appearance in the film as Ginger’s
    lover but is quickly tossed aside with an unreasonable explanation.”

    He was not tossed
    aside without any reason, maybe the director didn’t want to insult our
    intelligence by spelling it out for you. He was cheating on his wife. It builds
    on the theme of appearances vs reality which is omnipresent in all Allen films,
    even Crimes and Misdemeanors. Hal and Louis CK’s characters are shown to be
    similar, in that they project an image of respectability but are inherently
    scum. While the uncultured and working class Chilli is shown to be more honest
    and loving.

    “Alec Baldwin
    is only caste to display Jasmine’s lavish lifestyle of her past and something
    to understand her better with. ”

    Seriously now?Recommend

  • asianz

    Love this film and your review is awful.Recommend

  • Umar Zakaria

    still, i would have to watch it :D cant leave it thoughRecommend

  • M.Uzr

    No words for how awful this review is. Recommend

  • Yat Kai

    I have seen the movie yesterday. Without doubt, cate has done a good job but not great. This is because she did what the character required but I don’t feel the connection or any empathy towards her character and stories. Woody has done a good job but this movie is not his best. Recommend

  • tone

    I totally agree. It’s strange, I just watched it as a result of the oscar hype expecting brilliance. But not only is the film flat and cliche but Blanchette is rather studied. I felt as if she was always acting, trying to achieve someone else’s version of the character she couldn’t quite get a hold of. She is a smashing actress but not in this film.Recommend

  • Siggy

    Wow, just watched this awful movie, and even though I am 2 years too late, I have to say that this is one of the worst movies I have ever seen….and the shill-like comments below are truly nauseating…maybe some of Woody’s best writing?? Blanchett is brilliant but the haphazard direction, the lack of cohesiveness in the plot, and the cliched characters who are laughable, but for the wrong reasons…honestly, comparing it to “Hamlet” (!) is a terrible insult to poor Will…Woody, time to stop projecting your weird inner world onto the globe.Recommend

  • Betty Shipp

    Blue Jasmine is a great film. Cate Blanchett gave a wonderful performance of a woman who had it all and then lost it all, and trying to get her life back on track. I have watched the movie over and over again.Recommend