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  • Writer's pictureBen Kemper

Blue Jasmine

Or: The Stinking Rich and the Filthy Poor

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), the eponymous broken bird for whom this unfortunate feature is named, can’t stop talking about herself. After several traumas (husband is having multiple affairs, husband is a Madoff imitator, Son disowns her, She moves in with Sister and Nephews, finding Sister is stepping out with an updated version of her ex husband, etc) her mind is beginning to unravel and she accosts strangers with a spray of snippets from her former life.

This mirrors the progress of the film: a lot of irrelevant information pumped at us, over and over again. We go, seemingly at random, between Jasmine’s former life as shallow socialite to her present degraded circumstances (which look like Allan’s attempt to update A Streetcar Named Desire). The dialog patters along, idle words for idle characters that never grow or deepen. The shots are awkward, flat, and accompanied by the tinniest of old Jazz hits. It’s a strain on the eyes, a din on the ears, and the mind, feeling pandered and condescended to, recoils.

The only redeemable feature of the film is Blanchett herself, who does a very credible job of going mad (whether she used any frustration from the filming process is up to debate). Her wandering eyes resemble that of an animal trapped behind a cage, while her slurred but still intelligible ramblings stitch past nostalgia with present judgement together in a patch work of passive aggression.

In all but Blanchett’s scenes were trimmed away by the editor (maybe leaving a few snippets of Alec Baldwin, who’s presence does the film no harm but little good) the film would have been much improved. Perhaps very confusing, but much improved. It’s supposedly high-minded examinations of the self-assured Haves and the easily sated Have-Nots deflates almost instantaneously, and any emotional punches the film hopes to land bounce off. There is no point in caring for these peoples as, rich or poor, they will squander their chances and our expectations.

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