Blue Jasmine is a sad film. It is also a believable portrayal of how a woman whose life is based on status loses everything when she loses her status. The film begins with the main character Jasmine (played by Cate Blanchett) on a plane chatting to the woman next to her. Jasmine does not seem to ask the woman about her life but instead speaks incessantly about her own. On the plane, at the luggage carousel, Jasmine rambles on in a constant soliloquy. She gets to her sister's apartment in San Fransisco; interrupting her sister's life.
Jasmine, the former New York socialite, has lost her husband, Hal, to suicide as he hung himself in jail after arrest and prosecution due to financial fraud charges. Jasmine dropped out of school her senior year of college to marry and now in her early 40s she is in a very vulnerable position. Hal was wealthy, had multiple affairs and lived his life with a sense of immunity toward others that eventually cost him his wife, his son, his son's education, his wife's life and his own life. Jasmine knew of or suspected his financial dealings. But she did not turn him in until he was leaving her to start another family with another woman Jasmine's age at the time of his first marriage.
Her husband thought he could do whatever he wanted. Nothing meant anything. Jasmine tries to connect with Hal as a person after 20 some years of marriage and he treats her like a piece of furniture. "You will be cared for." He said. She wanted to be loved. The most melancholy aspect of the film is that Jasmine was right. The only parts of her life to ever love her back were her status and her money. Nothing else ever did.
Jasmine made mistakes and was selfish in her own ways but she did love her husband. If she did not love him she would have turned a blind eye to his affairs. She didn't. She asked him earnestly about them. He convincingly denies any wrong doing until he finds the woman who will hurt Jasmine the most. Jasmine walked into a trap in her early twenties and it did not snap shut on her until twenty some years later. Hal knew from the start, while Jasmine honestly believed in her world.
She also did love her son. Her son did not retribute her sensibilities. He left her behind for informing the FBI. She did not forsake her son for dropping out of Harvard his senior year due to social humiliation. Jasmine's ultimate mistake was not holding a term of endearment with her sister, Ginger, more. When things were well for Jasmine and Ginger had a hard time, Jasmine did not offer her sister protection. There is a bond of confidant lacking between the two.
For this, Ginger is torn between many worlds and tells too many people the details of Jasmine's real circumstance preventing Jasmine from getting a fresh start. It seems like Jasmine is not allowed to stand up for herself among her sister's friends. They can give her a hard time about her life, but she is not allowed to draw a line for herself.
Upon first meeting with Ginger's friends, Jasmine is asked invasive questions about her life, by Chili, Ginger's boyfriend, as to what her plans are for the future. Chili despises Jasmine for breaking up the symmetry he has with Ginger as he was planning on moving in with her. Jasmine sits at the cafe table and drinks too much, as the rude and demeaning questioning continues. Chili does not speak of himself nor his history. No one else's past life is brought up. Only Jasmine's background is clawed at by Ginger's friends to be placed upon the table. Jasmine speaks about her plans to go back to school and study anthropology like she was doing before she got married twenty years before.
Yet, Jasmine's long term future plans are shut down by Ginger and her less than mature friends, who make it obvious they want Jasmine out of their lives. But in regards to living arrangements the film never explains why Chili's ire should be all Jasmine's fault, as why can't Ginger move in with Chili? Yes, Jasmine's timing is not opportune and Ginger's ex-husband was one of Hal's financial victims, which further complicates matters, but Jasmine is not at fault for any of that. It is not made clear in the film at exactly what point in time she realizes Hal's financial dealings are fraudulent. Years earlier, when Ginger's husband trusts an investment of lottery winnings to Hal, (who loses it all), Jasmine questions Hal as to whether or not he really knows what he is doing and if it is for the best. Hal assures her it will all be fine.
Now, Jasmine increasingly turns to prescription pills and alcohol that only seem to worsen her situation. She tries working a menial job as a secretary in a small dental office, but this ends when her boss, who does not seem to care that she looks and acts depressed at times, sexually harasses her quite aggressively. Jasmine forsakes looking for a job and instead looks for a husband. She lies to gain one, but is discovered. One by one, venues shut down on Jasmine.
Ginger tries to do the right thing but does not really love Jasmine as Jasmine never loved her. Her sister also has limited space and resources though she is fairly well off working at a grocery store. Ginger has her own life to live. Jasmine is left sitting on a park bench in wrinkled clothing that was once very fine...she is talking to herself as if at a dinner party. In her mind she has gone to where she was loved.
By Sarah Bahl