Blanchett’s Jasmine is a disheartened Manhattan socialite who has lost near everything she previously had held dear. Her husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) was a wealthy con artist who seduced and married her but cheated at any chance he got and had become immensely wealthy on a series of fraudulent real-estate investments and fictitious corporations. When the government came in and took all of Jasmine’s designer clothes and bags, and then her husband hung himself in prison, she had no choice but to move in with her sister in San Francisco.
Ginger (Sally Hawkins), Jasmine’s adopted sister, lives at quite the opposite end of the spectrum from her distanced sister. Ginger bags groceries and lives in a cramped apartment with her two sons. She’s once divorced and in a serious relationship with Chili (Bobby Cannavale), a blue-collar worker with gusto who Jasmine looks down upon and later even turns her sister against. Ginger’s contrast with Jasmine is one of the focuses of this feature, as Jasmine mumbles to herself while she downs Xanax and liquor, Ginger is relatively happy with her two boys and simpler life. Yet through their dysfunctional interactions we see that both of these women are at their core insecure about who they are.
The Australian-born Cate Blanchett plays Jasmine with a miraculous blend of wilting melancholy and disarrayed persistence; this is a performance worthy of an Academy nomination. Blanchett’s Jasmine evokes the qualities of a contemporary Blanche DuBois in her delusional pursuit of a savior, and her dealings with her sister’s social circle. For Jasmine, the opportunity to achieve the life she aspires to presents itself in her relationship with the wealthy politician Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), who somehow believes her fictional personal history. Ginger too tries her luck at finding a healthy relationship with a sweet man, yet both women encounter trouble along the way.
Blue Jasmine is Woody Allen at his near best, with all the wit and emotion as his greatest works on display here. Cate Blanchett leads an all-round great cast as the mentally unstable Jasmine, in one of her finest performances to date. While Jasmine is the focus of this film, Allen writes all of the side characters with such zeal that each could be studied in their own right, such as Ginger’s re-evaluations of her own choices in life once her world is entered by her estranged sister. Crafted with an obvious love for story-telling and powered by an outstanding lead actress, Blue Jasmine is one of Woody Allen’s best works as of yet.