What In The World Happened to You?

Cate Blanchett

By Alec Julian

Your life smells like jasmine. It looks like Hermès, Chanel, et al. It tastes like Le Cirque, Daniel, etc. It sounds like boarding school elocution. It feels like yoga and pilates.

Flash forward. Your husband’s dead, your money’s gone. You’re so intolerably mortified you emigrate The City to reboot, spending your last pittance on a first class flight to San Francisco to move in with your omega dog proletarian sister. All you’ve brought is a sincerely intolerable classe supérieure ‘tude, a cache of haute couture, and enough Xanax to make you feel like this nightmare is on the verge of becoming a false awakening.

blue jasmine cateWelcome to Woody Allen’s haunting 45th feature in as many years starring the award bating Cate Blanchett in the ugly titular role.

Opting for psychosis over neurosis, “Annie Hall’s” director makes you – the heroine – clinically insane. Losing it all thanks to your Ponzi scheming philandering beau (typecast Alec Baldwin) a la Bernie Madoff, you lose it: you have panic attacks, you lie compulsively, you ramble to yourself in the park. Prozac and Lithium have only unraveled you further, you swear by Stoli. You used to be Jeanette, now you’re Jasmine. And as the name change suggests, your idée fixe is exoticism. You regurgitate Travel Section impressions of St. Tropez and Cannes.  But you’re far from aristocracy. You’re actually an orphan.  Enraged, your country-road timbre slips out. blue jasmine woody

That’s the first act of this occasionally funny ha-ha drama in the vein of “A Streetcar Named Desire” (comparisons between the two have been circulated ad nauseam). It’s consciously contrived. Actually, the opening barrel of exposition and backstory’s followed by a self-aware jibe about the premise of the movie – what kind of joke is that, the heroine asks.

In sum: Mr. Allen paints a psychological portrait of a paradox of a woman – anxious about the future and desperate to shake off the past; especially wonderful – the auteur weaves a kind of remarkable yarn about an empathetic flat character that rarely makes it into mainstay cinema today.

With Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Louis C.K., and Peter Sarsgaard.

Alec Julian is a Los Angeles based writer, who (fake) tweets.

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