Blue Jasmine: the art of destructive self-deception

Blue_Jasmine

When her husband commits suicide after having been sent to jail for fraud, a wealthy New York socialite moves in with her sister in San Francisco, and attempts to pull her fraying life back together.

It is perhaps somewhat embarrassing that this is the first film I’ve seen from Woody Allen’s long oeuvre. He’s one of those directors that everyone knows the name of, though not necessarily for his work. But if Blue Jasmine is a taste of the kind of social reflectiveness that Allen tends to weave into the stories he tells, then I am most definitely interested in seeing a few more.

When we finally left Jasmine talking to herself on a bench in the park, I really had to sit and collect my thoughts for a minute. For most of the film, she seemed like a victim of things that had been beyond her control: married to a businessman who used her name and signature to steal from others, oblivious to the numerous other women he was bedding. Yet, she still talked of him with so much fondness when he was gone, as if she’d forgiven him all of that. But the final acts of the film reveal that she wasn’t quite so oblivious to everything that had been going on, she’d just blocked out and ignored everything that would intrude into the fairytale of her life. Unsurprisingly, it was when she simply could not ignore everything anymore that everything fell apart.

That viewers might still feel sympathy for Jasmine when the final curtain falls is testament to two things. The first, of course, is Cate Blanchett’s performance, which words will never be able to describe. Even as Jasmine convinces herself and others that there is more to her poise than the wisps of her imagination, there’s a vulnerability enveloping her that makes you want to believe that she can untangle herself not only from those that might take advantage of her, but also from the tangled web that she has woven. The second is in the way that Woody Allen wove his tale, through flashbacks that slowly revealed just how involved and complicit Jasmine had been in everything that had happened to her. Even at the end, I can understand her spiteful reaction to her husband’s betrayal.

However, I’ve also found that there are limits to my sympathy. A life of deception simply cannot be sustained, and all the lies that a person tells and all the things that they do will catch up with them in the end, just as they did with Jasmine (or rather, Jeanette). And, no matter how close you are to a person, no matter how much you want to love them, you cannot let that deception ruin your own life. In the end, I was glad to see that the people around Jasmine had escaped from her. Maybe someone needed to tell her that she had just been deceiving herself, and that that deception had ultimately brought her to the crossroads she stood at. But I find it difficult to believe that she could continue in those ways, unless she really did not connect what she’d done with what had happened to her. That, to me, is an incredibly frightening thought, but I cannot help by think that there may be truth in it. Perhaps that’s why some people can only continue to deceive themselves.

About karice
MAG fan, amateur translator and political scientist-in-training. I also love musicals, travel and figure skating!

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