Ed Note: Light spoilers! It’s a Woody Allen Movie! Har har but seriously.
The Woody Allen movie formula for success equals a beautiful city with beautiful people plus incomprehensible romantic despair. An intoxicating love for a city’s thick addictive aroma, coupled with recursive and unrelenting anxiety has fueled Allen’s entire career (life?). “Blue Jasmine” maintains the same tonic: woman marries into the wealthiest tier of New York City and her tragic descent of losing it all.
The movie was showing at an Upper East Side theater nearby, so to get myself in the Woody Allen zone, I walked down Park Avenue toward 86th Street. Wide sidewalks lined with brownstone apartments framed by century old concrete crown molding, iconic women wearing classic French fragrances and sporting Dior, juxtaposed against artistically composed piles of perpetually wet garbage. Ahh, a perfect New York scene. I’m smitten. Plus, as a jewy New Yorker with my own romantic anxieties, which bore new pits of despair into my stomach lining daily, I’m aptly primed for a new Woody Allen movie. Sir, it’s a date.
Basic story line: Woman mets rich man. Woman drops out of college. Woman marries rich man. Rich man spoils woman. Woman is happy. Years pass while rich man lies about all the things. Woman finds out and kinda loses her privileged mind.
The narrative is structured to push and pop between past and present story lines. The disconnect from current reality and past expectations firmly establishes the cognitive dissonance and wild anxiety of our main character, Jasmine (Cate Blanchett). The tension created by the “pushes and pops” through time adds to the Allen’s overarching meta-theme. Anxiety is dizzyingly complex and scary. Lesson one: avoid insanity–check.
After a crippling falling out with her husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin), a proud Jasmine is left penniless with no option, but to move from New York to a less glamourous block of San Francisco with her sister. Allen infers that leaving NYC is a tragic failure and punishment enough for Jasmine. This theme is emphasized when she arrives at her sister’s “homey” blue collar apartment located above a cafe called “New Central Cafe”. This ain’t Central Park anymore hun. Our substance driven woman can’t seem to consume enough Xanex and Stoli’s to soften her new harsh reality. Girl, you poor,…and you dropped out college 20 years ago. Ruh-roh. Lesson two: stay in school–check.
While drinking cheap vodka on the rocks as I write this, I’m reminded of my finanical descent. Man, I miss my casual neat single-malt scotch. I can’t imagine drinking this shitty vodka forever either. She misses Chanel. I miss Glenlivet 15. I hear you Jasmine.
However, her deceit painted throughout the latter half of the story illuminates her deeper weaknesses. This is where I lose some of my sympathy. Even when we feel justified to lash out when treated badly, we are still are accountable for our responses. We learn, and Jasmine too, that lies are eventually unearthed and seen for what they are. Lesson three: avoid lying–check.
Maybe it’s just my atoning spirit while preparing for Rosh Hashanah, but my take home lesson from “Blue Jasmine”: going crazy town can be avoided by some honesty…and stay in school? Bonus side lesson: Cate Blanchett is still gorgeous while rocking a neurotic face covered in melted mascara. I can only hope to be so lucky.