Blue Jasmine

Blue JasminI loved this film, particularly the acting and especially Cate Blanchett, but then, I love Woody Allen. For me, I go to see his movies for the same reasons I used to see Jean Luc Godard’s films- even the bad ones give me food for thought. Here, I had a bountiful feast.

Cate Blanchett should get an Oscar, in particular for the last scene in the film. I can still see her sitting on that park bench, her surroundings as forlorn as the devastation on her face – riveting in the suppressed emotion and the silent hopelessness reflected in her empty gaze.

In much the same way as the illuminating performance of Emily Watson in Breaking the Waves, where her face radiated the whole range of emotions that only silent era characters displayed (such as Charlie Chaplin in the last scene of the Tramp), Blanchet’s soul is laid bare in the devastation she experiences when the life she concocted from someplace other than reality falls apart. The crumbling of her story and her life is reflected in her face. Like Humpty Dumpty, as described in Lewis Caroll’s book, she would not be put back together again.

This scene leaves you haunted, shaken and questioning the stories you believe about your own life. Different only in degree from Blanchett, our lives also illustrate how much of what we think of ourselves is not a direct experience of reality and the world, but a mental broadcast made of roles, desires, hopes, fears, ideas, other people, memories and lusts.

This is what makes the last scene so effective–her personal experience becomes universal.

People compare Blue Jasmine to A streetcar Named Desire because of the plot, but I compare it to Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, where the two women, Alma and Elizabeth, were unable to break through the reveries of their lives.

In Byron Katie’s 2002 groundbreaking book, Loving what is (Three Rivers Press, New York, 2002) she explores how believing your “story” leads to suffering. For her, we suffer when we believe a thought that argues with what is, because reality always rules.

Cate Blanchett’s Jasmine didn’t live in reality; she lived in her story and therefore suffered, much like Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia by Lars von Trier.

Most people I talk to, feel that this last scene is unbearably hopeless and sad, which goes to illustrate that once again, we all bring our own stuff to the movies. This scene to me is what makes Jasmine so similar to us – it pulls us in and asks us to free ourselves from our own stories (much like Byron Katie did) and not go down Jasmine’s path.