martedì 24 settembre 2013

Blue Jasmine

Black screen. Jazz music. Windsor font opening credits.
I have lived this same scene seated in a cinema every year of my life since I was 15, I reckon. A certainty more than a simple vision, a steady point in an ever changing world: a Woody Allen’s movie. 

There are days when I hope this is going to last until the end of world, or at least of mine (and since Woody’s parents are still alive, I count on his genes for that!). 
Not every vision has been the same, of course: sometimes it was enlightening, sometimes depressing, sometimes sidesplitting, sometimes inspiring and sometimes disappointing.
You can’t have it all, I guess.
After a circumnavigation that brought him around the world: London, Barcelona, Paris and Rome (I have to admit I refused to look at this last episode, because I understood it would have been part of the disappointing-almost unbearable ones!), Woody went back home, even if in San Francisco instead of the usual Manhattan, to deliver us this thing called Blue Jasmine

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) 
Jasmine is a woman in her 40s whose privileged existence is turned upside down by the sudden bankruptcy of her husband. For her, used to fancy apartments, expensive gifts, glamorous parties, jet-set friends and a commitments-free life, this is the end of the world. Penniless, and with just a couple of souvenirs from her previous life (a Hermès bag, a Chanel dress and a pair of Roger Vivier shoes), Jasmine is obliged to join the only family she has left: a sister living in San Francisco. Both adopted, Jasmine and Ginger can’t be more different than they are: sophisticated and delicate the first, ordinary and messy the second. Their life together is not exactly idyllic, and for Jasmine is almost impossible to cope with a bad apartment, a new job, her sister’s two wild sons and gross boy-friends. Will she be able to survive to all that and find her way through a new life? Who knows… 

Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard) and Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) 
If there is one thing Allen is always been great at, it is to choose the right cast.
Even the worst of his movies could count on astonishing performances, and this has been especially true for actresses. I think the reason is simple: Allen adores women, he is able to understand them, to write about them, to let them be what they genuinely are. I mean, Diane Keaton in Annie Hall didn’t become an icon of her generation by chance. Not to mention some of the magnificent roles Allen wrote for Mia Farrow or Dianne Wiest. 

To play Jasmine, an extremely complex character, a woman perpetually on the verge of a nervous breakdown, Allen made the best possible choice: Australian actress Cate Blanchett. The movie is literally shaped on her: on her silhouette, on the way she talks, she looks, she wears, she drinks, she suffers and she swings between hope and despair. The subtlety of her performance is a never ending surprise: the actress gave herself completely to Jasmine, touching almost unbearable moments of truth. The rest of the cast is there to serve her but nevertheless extremely good, with a special mention for Leigh-esque Sally Hawkins as her sister and Bobby Cannavale as Ginger’s rude and simple-minded boyfriend. 
Jasmine (Blanchett), Eddie (Max Casella), Chili (Bobby Cannavale) and Ginger (Sally Hawkins)
How fake is the life we are living? Is our existence based upon real facts or based upon a fictional world we have invented for our own sake? Jasmine goes through her life always pretending: pretending Jasmine is her real name, pretending she’s always been rich, pretending her husband is not cheating on her and pretending her poor sister doesn’t almost exist. And then, when this house of cards collapses, giving her a real chance of changing things, she keeps making the same stupid mistake, pretending again. 
The older he gets the somber he becomes, Allen, following a Bergmanian path that he traced patiently film by film. In this one, there is no hope left.
As you sow you shall reap… not much in this case, I’m afraid.

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