lunes, 27 de enero de 2014

Night-blooming Jasmine

One of the reasons I studied Communication (Journalism if you like) was because it was the closest I could be from a career in cinema: I could write about the Seventh Art! Taking into account my abilities, it seems I took the right decision back then. My sensibilities are in both places though...
My college years, like for everyone I think, were a time for discovery. And as strange as this may sound, Woody Allen is something like a mystery to me since then. He is one of those directors you couldn't get to know at home (at least not in mine, since he was considered this neurotic little man who told the same stories over and over again). I had my Allen's marathons in college, but there were a lot of movies I didn't get to see. They were always taken in the faculty film library! Today I still think of those ones I missed as a gap in my cinema education.

Last week, I went to see Blue Jasmine, that was screened in the Mermaid Arts Centre (Bray). I was happy to see the place was absolutely packed. First, because I find comforting people still go to see movies with good acting. Even I, as ignorant as I am about Allen's career, know I am going to see actors in a moment of brilliance, with the obvious exceptions. Second, because, does this full house mean he is becoming mainstream?

I can't talk much about the movie without spoiling the story, but I can tell you this: you should see Cate Blanchett as Jasmine. Some people have the opinion she is a cold looking woman. I would always would prefer to describe her as ethereal (Galadriel's fault, I guess). Blanchett’s Jasmine is ridiculous, shallow, but vulnerable and afraid of being alone too. Woody Allen’s special talent is writing character defining dialog, and through it we learn to love and detest Jasmine.

Jasmine is one of those anti-heroes the screens are overpopulated with these last few years (Breaking Bad, Justified, Dexter, to name just a few). When she starts telling her story, we find difficult to feel sympathy for her. The way she talks about her past life in Manhattan, the Hamptons, St. Tropez…, makes you despise this creature that is from that other side of the world. But, at times, you may feel like forgiving her sins and pitying her, especially when you sense she is about to collapse.

Jasmine has been invented by Jeanette (Blanchett's character's real name) the same way she has invented a fictional happy marriage and a not so fictional careless life. She is this delicate and classy lady, who speaks like a character out of Casablanca. Describing the way she meets her husband, wrapping the moment in a romantic veil, in which Blue Moon was playing and “he swept her off her feet”. During her life with Hal (her “very, very rich" husband), she is “scaling the dizzy heights of high society” and shares a fate not far from who inspired A Lady Of A Certain Age by The Divine Comedy.

The property bubble and financial malpractises cause the chain of events that will bring Jasmine to feel like fish out of water, and will destroy lives of many around her. Woody Allen does not offer an analysis of this chain of events, but delivers a satirical speech against the authors of those events efficiently, through a dialog that spares no punches.

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