Oscars Countdown 2014 - Blue Jasmine

Ensign Lestat's Oscars Countdown, 22/02/2014

'Blue Jasmine'
Nominations - Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress (Cate Blanchett), Best Supporting Actress (Sally Hawkins)

'Blue Jasmine' follows the story of Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) who's now down on her luck. She moves in with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins). Jasmine is obviously unstable, and her sister has a great deal of baggage, along with two rowdy kids.

The story is rather conventional but the facts are presented to us very slowly. The portrayal of the story is rather unconventional of course, considering we don't usually get to see a completely unhinged and self-sabotaging protagonist.

I'm not the biggest fan of Woody Allen, though I did love 'Midnight in Paris'. With the latest resurfacing of the allegations against him, I am appalled that the Academy bothered to give him a nomination - or even to the stars of his film. Which, I'll admit would have been a shame, but I'll come to that later.

Hollywood is a prominent industry and it doesn't have a care for sexual assault or its victims. The likes of Roman Polanski still gets to work and still gets rewarded, and so does Allen, and others who I don't even know of. It is deeply upsetting. Especially if you put into context the fact that Winona Ryder's career has pretty much disappeared after she was caught shoplifting. The dichotomy is disturbing.

Back to the film. Please be aware - spoilers ahead.

In 'Blue Jasmine', Jasmine isn't her real name, which shows just how much she doesn't want to be who she is. She changes her name and marries a rich man, only for everything to go sideways when he is revealed to be a swindler (one of those again). He's also an adulterer.

After moving in with her sister, Jasmine is convinced to take up a job to sustain herself, but has to quit when her boss tries to get his way with her - this scene stands out because it is so awkward and poorly conceived. It's like there is no other way Jasmine could have decided to quit that pathetic job other than being assaulted by her boss. Have I mentioned she's mentally unstable - that fact makes the scene particularly disturbing.

Ginger also appears to be suffering from low self-esteem considering the men in her life. In fact, both women are governed by the activities of the men in their lives.

At a party both Jasmine and Ginger meet new men. Ginger has an outright affair with him, only because he's kind. Jasmine has an affair with the doctor because he's nice and kind of rich. Her new relationship plays out much like her relationship with her ex-husband. I like that cyclical process.

Unfortunately both relationships end abruptly - Ginger's man is married, Jasmine's man finds out the truth about her when her step-son is mentioned in a conversation.

Cue meeting with the step-son who puts the blame and his hatred solely on her - why? Because she called the Feds on her husband after finding out about his million affairs. That one act of hers ruined them - but that would not have been a problem had he not been a swindler, or a cheater. So why all the hate on her? She's already suffered - is still suffering - because of that one act. In the end, we still don't know what will become of these two self-destructive women. We can only hope for the best.

The writing nomination for this film worries me, because it's not innovative, and again features dysfunctional women and their equally dysfunctional relationship with each other. It is unconventionally related to the audience, and I commend that, but all in all, I believe the originality is there, but not the imagination.

Of the nominations it's got, Sally Hawkins is really good as the awkward, weary and somewhat down-trodden Ginger. I don't think I've ever seen any of her work before, so I was definitely taken in by her performance - it wasn't outstanding, but it was definitely believable.

But nothing surpasses the brilliance of Cate Blanchett. She is outstanding. I am hard-put to find the words to describe her performance. She was mesmerising. She encapsulated the social butterfly look, as well as the unhinged look beautifully. The intense concentration and focus in her face during her long imaginary talks was at once disturbing and absorbing. For anyone who's known a person with any mental issues, Blanchett's portrayal is shockingly realistic. She is by far the most deserved winner of the Oscar this year, which probably means they'll give it to a lesser mortal.

Blanchett is the only reason one should watch this film, because skipping that performance means missing out on true brilliance. Fabulous and fascinating work. Which is why, as I said, banning Allen from the Academy would be a shame, because he does, frustratingly, get the best out of his actors a lot of the time. Having said that, the sacrifice of a Blanchett one year would be a small price to pay for making a stand against the continuous injustice people, especially women, continue to face in today's world. To go on commending him means to demonize the accuser and applaud the accused. We must stop this attitude today. Here's hoping Hollywood is listening.

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