Blue Jasmine: Blanche Dubois Lives!

As my stepmother and I were waiting for the matinee crowd to disperse, the nice woman sitting on the other side of her asked me how I liked the movie.

I said,”I don’t think wives in the Hamptons deserve that much of our attention.”

She said, “It’s supposed to be funny.”

OH. I guess I’d forgotten that this is a Woody Allen film. I’ve made a point not to watch Woody Allen films since he made that one, the title of which I forget, about his relationship with Mia Farrow’s seventeen year-old adopted daughter.

Not because I’m a moralist. Because I refuse to justify the narcissism of many New Yorkers, that those of us who are not privileged to live in the Big Apple are endlessly fascinated by the neuroses of those who do.

That said, Blue Jasmine is a compelling character study of a woman who has held her blue chip life together with daily doses of denial and a husband who feeds her narcissism. Cate Blanchett (whom I love) gives possibly the best performance of her career. This film is worth seeing simply to watch her fall apart in a genteel version of The Bad Lieutenant (The Harvy Keitel version, not the Nicholas Cage remake).

Jasmine’s (nee Jeanette) fall from grace is occasioned by the arrest of her husband for financial crimes which bilked investors out of millions. We see her as she arrives in San Francisco with her Louis Vitton luggage to live with her grocery cashier sister,Ginger, in a situation borrowed heavily from Tenneessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.

Correspondences to the classic play include Ginger’s Stanley Kowaski type boyfriend, Chili, Jasmine’s dependence on alcohol and Xanax to get her through the day, and even a mild sexual assault (though not perpetrated by Stanley).

Jasmine’s attempts to reinvent herself are interspersed with glimpses of her former life with Hal (played by Alec Baldwin, in the smug operator persona he has perfected over the course of his career).

Perhaps the film is an attempt to give those of us whose lives were affected by financial hocus pocus such as that perpetrated by Hal, an opportunity to feel superior to the 1%.

But funny? Since when is Blanche Dubois funny?

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