First Hit: Wasn’t impressed with overall script but thought Cate Blanchett was amazing to watch.
For some reason the film doesn't delve too much into the cause of everyone's anguish; the defining event being the arrest and prosecution of Hal (Alec Baldwin) for deceiving all his family and friends with investment schemes that ruin their lives.
Therefore, I found it hard to "get" that Hal actually had the smarts to be deceitful. Despite this obvious slight of hand, the prominent focus of this film is the subject of lying and self deceit. His wife, Jasmine (Blanchett), is the cause of his fall from grace because she deceived herself by ignoring until she decided to call him out.
As Blanchett as the vehicle of the story, director and writer Woody Allen hopes you forgive the lack of background and gives you snippets of the past by having Jasmine zone out into an alternate reality to fill in the story. In much of the film, it works well enough, but in other aspects it doesn’t. Jasmine blames Hal for her current life of no money and no friends, while taking no responsibility for any of it herself.
Arriving at her sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) in the semi-downtrodden neighborhood on South Van Ness in San Francisco, she is lost and wants to try to make something out of her life. The story is that she spent time in a mental hospital after being found talking to herself on the streets of New York City. The first lie she tells her sister is that she flew to SF in first class; the scene showing her in her seat we can easily see she wasn’t in the first class section at all. She cannot let go of the life she use to have.
Throughout the film we watch Jasmine fade in and out of past stories and her current reality. In the end we don't really know the truth of whether she was complicit in her husbands story or just didn't want to accept the truth as her reality.
For the most part Blanchett was very good and I also felt she was limited by the script. Baldwin wasn’t very believable as the master manipulator. Hopkins was superb. She was refreshing, alive and well suited to the role. Andrew Dice Clay, as Ginger’s former husband Augie, especially in his first scene, seemed like he was reading script and didn’t embody the character very well. Bobby Cannavale as Chili was very engaged in his character and was fun to watch. Allen wrote and directed this effort. The background was week and made believability of the story weak. He got some strong performances out of Cannavale, Blanchett and Hawkins.
Overall: Not Allen’s best but not his worst either.