Astrology: Film: ‘Blue Jasmine’ (2013)

Sony Pictures Classics

Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine is the assured work of an older artist unafraid to make the point that people typically go to their graves clutching the archetypes they’ve been projecting and embracing for decades, no matter how self-destructive.

Blue Jasmine, the character, is actually Jeanette (Cate Blanchett), who took on her flowery moniker years earlier as tribute to the song that was playing when she met her husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin). Hal, who had helped create Jasmine’s self-image as an entitled and financially privileged Manhattanite, was actually a Bernie Madoff-like operator who later committed suicide in prison.

When we meet Jasmine, she’s penniless and on her way to San Francisco to live with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), whose working-class existence and lifestyle are like rats gnawing away at the upscale fortress Jasmine has built up around herself, and reminders that she, too, might sink to that level.

In the end, Blue Jasmine is about extreme ambition, a will to succeed, and a profound fear of loss, all the bailiwick of Saturn. Jasmine believes she has earned – another Saturnine watchword – her reputation as a marital asset and the keys to financially well endowed mates.

In Blanchett’s remarkably charged physical performance – it’s actually a sustained nervous outburst driving her character to find another husband of means before Saturn snatches every last piece of jewelry and self-respect from her body – Jasmine is on a race against time, also Saturn’s domain.

Not that those around her are faring any better. Ginger, whose own life with her first husband (Andrew Dice Clay) took a tumble when he invested the couple’s lottery winnings with Hal, would also like to feel more secure. She now has a boyfriend, Chili (Bobby Cannavale), whose fierce temper has sent Ginger off to what she hopes are greener pastures with a new acquaintance (Louis C. K.). But in the end, Saturnine habit – enduring and settling to feel some semblance of safety – overpowers Ginger, too.

If there’s any twist in the story, it comes in the form of Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), a widow and diplomat who shouts “husband material” and seems to be Jasmine’s ticket back to the persona she’s worked so hard to establish all these years. But Dwight, who initially looks to be cut from the same superficial cloth as Jasmine, is surprisingly more authentic.

Like many people who’ve grown too comfortable in their skins, Jasmine talks a good game. (Beneath her exquisite articulation, Jasmine is, in fact, one babbling steam of unconsciousness, a caveat, perhaps, against too much therapy and navel-gazing.)

Risk may result, as it did for Hal, in a prison sentence – Saturnine punishment for not abiding by those planet’s rules. Yet Allen strongly suggests elevated risk – getting below the surface and experiencing Saturnine rewards– is the only way to go. And that chances are slim Jasmine will make that journey.

Astrology Film Rating: ♄ (Saturn)

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