Cate Blanchet as Jasmine is fantastic in this tight drama. Jasmine fell from Park Avenue grace when her filthy rich crook husband got put in prison. She is forced to move in with her sister and her two kids into a small one bedroom apartment in San Fransisco. This is one of those movies that is tough to categorize or describe it’s “plot”. I love those. They force you to look at each character as a real person and consider their choices, motivations and dialogue. We have the sister, her ex-husband (really good performance by Andrew Dice Clay of all people!), her current possibly-loser boyfriend and Jasmine’s husband who we see in flashbacks.
Woody Allen tells the story in two parallel lines, mostly from Jasmine’s perspective. We have the “now” with her trying to “learn computers” so that she can get her interior designer degree online. We see her dispensing advise to her sister about the kind of man she needs to date. Meanwhile, she can barely maintain her sanity as she tries to catch a new husband. We also have her flashbacks as we learn about her previous life, her husband, their extravagant lifestyle and his many affairs. I recently criticized an older Allen movie for trying to do Bergman and the attempt coming off as just an imitation. Here I see characters and dialogue that remind me of Bergman as well. However, this is unmistakably Woody Allen’s film and not an imitation. It’s funny at times but really tragic as a whole. It’s the portrait of Jasmine fading as she hopelessly tries to hold on to her prior glory with alcohol, Xanax, stories and nice clothing.