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Film / Blue Jasmine

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A 2013 film written and directed by Woody Allen. It stars Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin. It takes a lot of influence from A Streetcar Named Desire and the "serious" portion of Melinda and Melinda, as well as the real-life shenanigans of Bernie Madoff and his family.

Jasmine, a formerly wealthy widow from New York, moves to San Francisco to live with her stepsister Ginger. She claims it's merely a temporary stay until she can get back on her feet, but it quickly becomes clear that her rich background has hampered her ability to function in middle-class society. She additionally has made a lot of enemies, from her husband's dishonest swindling to make himself rich. Rumors of a troubled past surround her, which gradually begin to choke off her attempts for a new life.


The film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Accent Relapse: As her anxiety rises, Jasmine's accent gets more posh.
  • Affably Evil: Hal, which is not surprising given that his fortune was made by convincing people to invest. One of his first scenes has him telling his son about how he donates money to charity to help the less fortunate, yet it's hinted his generosity isn't sincere.
  • The Alcoholic: Jasmine needs cocktails and vodka to cope with just about anything.
  • Ambiguous Disorder:
    • Though Jasmine is not specified as having a mental disorder, she does exhibit symptoms of schizophrenia and narcissistic personality disorder (which would explain much of her behavior throughout the film).
    • Hal's remorseless, matter-of-fact attitude about his infidelity and ripping off countless people might qualify him as a sociopath.
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  • Anachronic Order: The movie interweaves scenes from Jasmine's post-divorce life with flashbacks to Jasmine's married life. Interestingly, it seems Jasmine is actually experiencing the flashbacks too, since they are triggered by something she hears (like "the French girl") and when we cut back we find her talking to herself as if she is still reliving the memory.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing:
    • The dentist that Jasmine works for is a full "nice guy", with a personality of awkward kindness that turns out to be over the spirit of a sexual harasser. His attempts to ask out Jasmine get uncomfortably direct until he flat out tries to kiss and grope her right there in the office, causing her to throw him off and leave the job.
    • Hal is presented as a genuinely loving husband and excellent businessman. It turns out he's a scam artist who's been remorselessly cheating on his wife left and right for years.
    • Al (whose name is perhaps deliberately similar to Hal's) seems cute in a dorky way and genuinely enamored with Ginger, only to turn out to have been cheating on his wife.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Chili grows up a bit, and he and Ginger get back together, but Jasmine ends up talking to herself on the street again, friendless, delusional, and broke.
  • Blatant Lies: Jasmine blithely declares to Ginger and Chili that she's going to move out of the apartment and in with Dwight, that he's asked her to redecorate his apartment, and that they will be moving to Vienna. As she's clearly on the verge of another nervous breakdown, it's possible that these are her delusions and that she genuinely believes what she's saying.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Jasmine lies to Ginger that she's going to marry Dwight and move out of the apartment, but the final scene is of her babbling to herself on a park bench, in the throes of another nervous breakdown. Presumably, it's only a matter of time before she's picked up by the police and taken to a hospital, just as she mentions happened the first time.
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends with Jasmine talking to a stranger about her life—wearing the same outfit, interestingly—the stranger not wanting to listen while she keeps on going. There are some key differences—in the first scene, she looks posh and coifed, her dialogue is coherent, and the other woman occasionally responds. The second time, she's bedraggled and babbling randomly and completely oblivious to the fact that the woman on the bench has very quickly gotten up and left. This all indicates that her breakdown is even more severe this time.
  • Broken Bird: Jasmine, literally, given that she outright had a nervous breakdown as a result of all the trauma she went through and is well on her way to another one by the film's conclusion.
  • Broken Pedestal: Danny's dialogue makes it clear that Hal and Jasmine are this to him.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Both averted and played straight. When Jasmine finally has clear proof that Hal has been cheating on her, he dismisses most of the affairs as just flings he had to let off some steam. The last one, however, he insists is true love and he's going to leave Jasmine to marry this new girl... even though she's only 18 and Hal is 55.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Jasmine and Dwight were shopping for wedding rings when Augie - who'd been in just a few scenes - shows up and tanks their relationship by revealing Jasmine's past.
  • Comically Missing the Point: At the end of the opening sequence, as Jasmine's seatmate hurries away, Jasmine cheerfully bids her farewell, suggesting that they have lunch sometime, completely oblivious to the fact that the woman clearly just wants to get the hell away from her, even calling out, "Wait! I don't have your number!"
    • After she and Dwight run into Augie, she tries to steer Dwight into the jewelry store as if if nothing has happened. Dwight's reaction is basically "You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!".
    • Hal and Jasmine's breakup isn't meant to be funny, but one almost has to laugh at how blithely he declares he's going to leave her for a teenager and how "we're making plans for the future", as if there's nothing wrong with this. Even Jasmine herself laughs at one point, amazed at how sincerely he believes in the idiotic things he's saying.
  • Contrast Montage: When high-class couple Jasmine and Dwight start dating, they visit classy places and make love in a fine bedroom. This is juxtaposed with Ginger and Al's dates, where the two have sex inside their car and a cheap motel.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Chili threatens to "bust you (Al) in your fucking face!" after finding out about him and Ginger and roughs her up somewhat too.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Jasmine tries to keep secret what events led to her downfall, telling her new boyfriend that her husband passed away, she has no children, and moved to San Francisco to try a new life. In reality, her husband committed suicide, her stepson disowned his family, and she suffered a nervous breakdown from all this, eventually moving to her sister's home in San Fran because it was all she had left.
  • Defector from Decadence: Jasmine's stepson Danny was at Harvard and lived a live of enormous privilege but dropped out due to the shame of Hal's dealings and now works at a music store in Oakland, living a fairly normal life and generally seems much happier and to have handled the change in lifestyle considerably better than Jasmine has, helped in no small part by his marriage.
  • Did Not Get The Guy: Just as Jasmine and Dwight go out to buy wedding rings, Augie appears and reveals the truth about her. Dwight is angered that she lied to him and the marriage is cut off.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Jasmine clearly didn't regarding calling the feds about Hal's shady business dealings, given how poorly she's handled all the horrible ramifications.
    • Also, Jasmine hides her past from Dwight. Even if Augie hadn't turned up, a Google search turning up her picture alongside her ex would have done the job. And even if not, as Dwight himself says, he was bound to find out eventually anyway.
  • Domestic Abuse: Jasmine mentions that Augie hit Ginger and actually seems legitimately worried that Chili might be the same kind of man, given his problems with controlling his temper—indeed, he roughs Ginger up when he finds out about her infidelity, prompting Jasmine to not only try to physically break them up but also threaten to call the cops if he doesn't leave.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": It's not Jeanette, it's Jasmine.
  • Driven to Suicide: Jasmine's husband Hal hanged himself while in prison. Jasmine doesn't want to talk about it but when pushed, ends up going into a lot of detail about how hanging kills you by neck snap, not suffocation as most people think. Her listeners are disturbed, to say the least.
  • Ephebophile: Hal, given his liaison with an 18-year-old girl (while she's of the legal age of consent, this disorder is defined as an attraction to those 15-19 years of age) and his passionate declaration that this is true love, with an attitude as if this is perfectly normal.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first thing we see Jasmine doing is talking at length about herself to a female companion, only for it to be revealed the other person is a total stranger who had the misfortune to sit by her on a plane.
  • Everyone Can See It: Every one of Jasmine's rich friends knew Hal was seeing many other "girlfriends". They never told her because they felt it wasn't their problem.
  • Fair-Weather Friend: Aside from never having the decency to tell Jasmine that her husband was screwing around, it appears all her friends ditched her once the scandal broke out (to be fair, they were also no doubt legitimately furious about Hal ripping them off).
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Jasmine, who doesn't seem to have ever worked before, now works as a receptionist and mentions briefly having worked at an upscale clothing store in Manhattan where she had to see her old friends shopping there.
  • Flat Character: Ginger's kids are there just to state uncomfortable facts and play with electronic toys.
  • Foreshadowing: After Dwight learns of her deception, Jasmine babbles, "I did it to myself again!". This previews the final flashback, where we learn that she's the one who called the FBI, triggering the family's downfall.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: Dwight starts talking about marriage and family with Jasmine after they've spent only a few days together.
  • Freudian Excuse: Jasmine and Ginger's adoptive parents seemed to have blatantly favored Jasmine over Ginger. This goes a long way to explain their issues: Jasmine is an entitled narcissistic used to getting what she wants, while Ginger is attracted to any man who shows her attention, no matter how destructive.
  • Gilligan Cut: A delayed one, but it happens. Several characters suggest that Jasmine take a job as a dental receptionist, as there's an offer for one they know. Jasmine turns them down many times, but eventually we see her arrive in the dentist's office.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The most despicable character appears only in flashbacks since he killed himself in prison, and the most sympathetic ones just want to get out of this mess.
  • Happily Adopted: Jasmine and Ginger were both adopted. Jasmine fit in well with her family; Ginger, not so much.
  • Heroic BSoD: Possibly a Villainous BSoD, depending on how you feel about the character.
  • Hope Spot: Jasmine is this close to re-entering her old life when she and Dwight run into Augie, who exposes her lies and puts her right back where she started.
  • Hysterical Woman: The Movie
  • I Could A Been A Contender: Augie (Ginger's ex-husband) was planning to start a business with money he won in the lottery, but Jasmine convinced him to let Hal invest the money instead.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • A wife with any intelligence dealing with a philandering husband whom they know is engaged in investment fraud could have used the blackmail threat of informing the FBI for the best divorce settlement she could get. Instead, she calls the Feds in a blind rage and thus the whole family is ruined.
    • Her lying through her teeth to Dwight about her history. Even if they hadn't run into Augie, did she really think he would never find out the truth eventually, as he himself says?
    • Hal himself, who clearly expected Jasmine to simply accept his leaving her for an 18-year old and never considered that she would take revenge.
  • Idle Rich: Jasmine, during her marriage. After losing her fortune, she thus has few useful skills, and is mortified over taking a menial job like working in a store.
  • I Reject Your Reality: Jasmine has trouble fully accepting her new circumstances. By the end, she's become completely detached from reality as a whole.
  • It's All About Me: Jasmine, for the most part. It comes across more clearly when she finds the stepson who ran away and is more focused on how she needs him rather than what's good for him.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Jasmine's stepson Danny is mentioned as having attended Harvard before the scandal broke and he dropped out. Justified given his family's wealthy and status undoubtedly helping him be accepted.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Chili is very brash and has an explosive temper but he isn't wrong about Jasmine having a negative impact on everyone's lives or that she was a bad sister.
    • Augie is shown to be just as brash and might have been abusive to Ginger. But he's not wrong when he accuses Jasmine of knowing all about Hal's crimes, as it later turns out Jasmine's the one who called the cops on Hal.
    • In the opening sequence, Jasmine mentions Augie having hit Ginger. She sees similarities between him and Chili and part of the reason she encourages Ginger to dump him is that for all her snobbery and elitism, she genuinely wants better for her sister.
      Jasmine: "Maybe she'll find a guy who deserves her, for a change!
    • As cold as he is to her, Danny's anger towards Jasmine over her actions and general desire to distance himself from her for his own well-being is also understandable.
  • Lady Drunk: Jasmine.
  • Laughing Mad: Jasmine, as Hal seriously and sincerely declares that he's found true love with an 18-year-old girl and that they're "making plans for the future".
  • Lost Food Grievance: Parodied at the end of the film, where Chili, reunited with his fiancee Ginger, tells her to not touch the last slice of pizza. She takes it and dangles it in front of his face, teasing, "Is this yours? Is this yours?" He not only grabs the pizza, but snatches her up too and takes her away to the bedroom, where we overhear him saying, "This is mine, and this is mine, and this is mine..."
  • Lower-Class Lout: Both Augie and Chili tend to be rather loud, vivacious and loutish, a far cry from the mannered society Jasmine is used to; as such, she considers Ginger to exclusively pick "losers."
  • May–December Romance: Despite being a man in his fifties, Hal's affairs include a twenty-something personal trainer and a teenaged au pair.
  • Meaningful Name: The film's title is a subtle one. Jasmine flowers are normally white or yellow (colours our protagonist likes to wear) but the titular character is perhaps more blue than she first appears.
  • Meet Cute: Jasmine and Dwight meet at a party by mutually needing to escape to the quiet of a private den.
  • Never My Fault: Jasmine when it is revealed that she was the one who called the FBI and ruined her's and everyone else's lives because of her fury over Hal's infidelity.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Hal and Jasmine, as well as their son, are Serial Numbers Filed Off takes on Bernard Madoff and his family.
  • One of the Boys: Ginger hangs around her apartment in daisy dukes and loose shirts, drinking beer and watching boxing matches with Chili's friends.
  • Posthumous Character: Hal, who is revealed early on to have committed suicide while in prison. All his appearances are in flashbacks.
  • Quitting to Get Married: During her opening monologue, Jasmine mentions dropping out of college to marry Hal.
    • Despite enrolling in computer and decorating courses to become an interior designer, she apparently quits that the moment things become serious with Dwight.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Fed up with Jasmine's attitude, Ginger finally tells her off—when Jasmine denounces her lifestyle and her habit of picking "losers", Ginger angrily declares, "I'm living like this because you married the biggest loser of all!", referring to Hal ripping off her and Augie.
  • Recovered Addict: When Jasmine meets Danny again, he mentions that he used to be addicted to drugs but has managed to recover thanks to his new wife.
  • Revenge Before Reason: This one is a huge spoiler, so let's just say that almost all of the film's events are caused by this.
  • Riches to Rags: Deconstructed as much of the film shows the serious effects that such a fall from grace would have on a person. Jasmine was implied to be struggling somewhat before but the loss of her lifestyle and the events of the film only push her further to the point that she ends the film completely detached from reality.
  • Sanity Slippage: Jasmine becomes increasingly unhinged over the course of the film, reversing only when she's teased with the prospect of a good and luxurious life with Dwight. When that falls apart, she apparently passes the point of no return.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: The film ends with Jasmine's circumstances exactly where they were at the beginning despite at least some small measures to change them. See also Bookends above.
  • Stepford Suburbia: An urban setting, and one where the participants aren't even aware of it. Jasmine's loving husband has been cheating on her left and right for years, her so-called friends knew but didn't say anything, and their gorgeous, glamorous life is built on fraud.
  • Television Geography: Some good old fashioned character's impossibly teleporting throughout San Francisco between shots. And then Oakland happens.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: After her divorce, Jasmine moves in with her sister Ginger... to the dismay of her sister's boyfriend, who had also been planning to move in with Ginger but now can't.
  • Thinking Out Loud: Jasmine during her breakdowns.
  • Too Much Information: Among the many things Jasmine babbles to her seatmate is that she and Hal had a great sex life.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Jasmine calling the FBI. She outright tells her stepson that "the second I made that call, I regretted it". He sadly tells her, "You can't take it back."
  • The Unfavorite: Jasmine and Ginger's adoptive parents seemed to have openly preferred the former over the latter due to Jasmine being more attractive and well-behaved.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Jasmine has a low opinion of both her sister's fiance and her ex-husband and frequently tells her that she could have done better. While it's partly because she feels that Ginger deserves better than "losers," she also seems to be embarrassed associating with her type.
  • Wham Line: Already stunned at learning of Hal's affair with a friend's au pair, Jasmine is even moreso when her friend admits that she knew and that this is just the latest of his infidelities, proceeding to rattle off the names of his other lovers.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Aside from the similarities to the Madoff case, this could also be considered a loose remake of A Streetcar Named Desire.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Averted. All flashbacks show that Jasmine was a genuinely loving stepmother to Danny and that of all things, she most regrets ruining her relationship with him.
  • With Friends Like These...: None of Jasmine's so-called friends saw fit to tell her that her husband was screwing around on her. On the flip side, Hal had no qualms about ripping these people off.
  • Woman Scorned: Jasmine freaks out when she discovers her husband is not only adulterous but in love with another woman. She impulsively calls the cops and exposes his crooked dealings, destroying him, herself and her son in the process. The husband ends up killing himself in prison.