Director Woody Allen
Running time 98 minutes
Cate Blanchett plays the title character of Jasmine, a troubled woman who, after her marriage and wealth crumble, tries to rebuild her life, but finds the task more challenging than she would like.
She goes from her pampered New York lifestyle, handed to her on a plate by her smooth but fraudulent and unfaithful husband Hal (Alec Baldwin), to move in with her working-class adopted sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco.
Cate Blanchett gives a strong performance; it’s well-acted throughout. This is very much an ensemble drama (which features a few comedic moments), in which writer-director Woody Allen explores the fragility of wealth, pride, and even romantic relationships.
All the characters are flawed, sometimes heavily so, but Woody Allen deftly observes the nuances of human interaction, making the slightly exaggerated characters nonetheless relatable and thus believable. When they argue, they’re often partly right and partly wrong at the same time. They also reflect each others’ flaws, and so have no right to judge one another, though they sometimes do.
The film provides a good illustration of the verse, ‘The heart is deceitful above all things…’ (Jeremiah 17.9). It also illustrates the book of Ecclesiastes and the parable of the wise and foolish builders in Matthew 7, in that whenever people place their ultimate confidence in anything other than God, it inevitably turns to dust and lets them down.
Thus the film effectively functions as the non-Christian flip-side of Hebrews 13.5: ‘Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”‘
Notes of hope
The few notes of hope in the film come from the characters displaying glimmers of humility, fidelity, forgiveness, and unconditional love. However they’re only capable of these to a limited extent and by common grace, which itself is a gift from God.
The players in the film, especially Jasmine, are seeking forgiveness, peace, and a firm foundation, all of which are ultimately only found in Jesus.
Blue Jasmine works as a humane, nuanced look at the complexity and foibles of human beings, though it lacks the action or uplifting sense of triumph of mainstream Hollywood films. Nonetheless, it raises some interesting questions, though only grasps at the answers.
The film contains occasional swearing, but, more frequently, taking the Lord’s name in vain. Many of the characters have a casual attitude to sex and relationships, and a few darker elements are touched on, but this is generally in the context of illustrating the brokenness of humanity.
Calvin Peat, Woking