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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Blue Jasmine is a Woody Allen-directed dramedy with themes that may be too mature for tweens and younger. The protagonist is mentally unstable and is falling apart right before viewers' eyes. Characters don't readily empathize with one another, and they sometimes sabotage each other, not to mention themselves. There's lots of drinking and pill-popping -- the main character, Jasmine (aka Jeanette), relies on hard liquor and prescription medication to get through the day. Another character is very angry, bordering on abusive, and there's some strong language ("f--k," "s--t," "a--hole," etc.).
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Jasmine French (Cate Blanchett) once owned Manhattan, in a manner of speaking. Her husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin), was a successful financier; they were a constant fixture in top social circles. But Jasmine's carefully coiffed and pampered world falls to pieces when Hal is arrested for fraudulent business dealings (a la Bernie Madoff) and their belongings and mansions are seized. Hal ends up in jail, where fate isn't kind to him. So off to San Francisco Jasmine goes to find a new start near her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins). Ginger's divorced, with an ex-husband (Andrew Dice Clay) who can't stand Jasmine and a new boyfriend, Chili (Bobby Cannavale), whom she dislikes. And then there's the newer guy (Louis C.K.)... Jasmine wants a fresh start, but San Francisco is a far cry from Manhattan, and she isn't made for a humdrum life working the front desk for a pervy dentist. When a dashing gentleman (Peter Sarsgaard) swoops into her life, Jasmine commits to getting him to the altar.
Is it any good?
Woody Allen‘s been steadily regaining momentum since 2005's Match Point; now, it feels like we have him back for good, armed with incisive observations served on a bed of wit and insight. He knows there's plenty to mine in that particular moment of our recent history where it seemed the poor got poorer and the rich got richer until they were caught. In Blanchett, he has an excellent partner. Her chic, pampered Jasmine brings Tennessee Williams' Blanche DuBois to Bernie Madoff's era, ripping at her once beautifully tailored seams. It's a discomfiting sight watching an elegant woman crack up, especially juxtaposed against Hawkins' earthy, practical Ginger, who may always be choosing losers but has both eyes open while doing so. In Allen's movies, people almost always get their comeuppance. Blanchett's triumph is how she still makes us feel sorry for Jasmine even if we don't like her very much.
A minor complaint: Scenes filmed in New York have that specificity that Allen movies always do; but when Blue Jasmine switches to San Francisco, a certain fuzziness sets in despite the appearance of the Golden Gate Bridge and other City by the Bay bonafides. It might as well have been set in Seattle or Chicago. Still, we're glad to see the director in fine form, wherever he chooses to go. For movies like this, we'll follow him anywhere.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the story Woody Allen is telling in Blue Jasmine is relevant to these times. Why or why not?
How does the movie depict drinking and prescription drug use? Are they glamorized at all? Are there realistic consequences?
Jasmine and Ginger are sisters. Do they seem like they like each other? Respect each other? Is their relationship a good one?
Talk to your kids about Jasmine's plight. Is she a victim or complicit? Are we intended to sympathize with her?
- In theaters: July 28, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: January 21, 2014
- Cast: Alec Baldwin, Cate Blanchett, Louis C.K., Sally Hawkins
- Director: Woody Allen
- Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Brothers and Sisters
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: mature thematic material, language and sexual content
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