A Review of “Blue Jasmine”: Story and Analysis

This post includes a brief plot summary, an analysis and an explanation about the ending of the film Blue Jasmine (2013). Beware of spoilers.


Blue Jasmine (Blu-ray)

Shop Now ↗

Can a person ever truly escape their past? The 2013 comedy drama explores the consequences of actions and the power of second chances. Directed by Woody Allen, “Blue Jasmine” has a stellar cast. The film stars Cate Blanchett as Jasmine Francis, Alec Baldwin as Hal Francis, and Sally Hawkins as Ginger.

“Blue Jasmine” uses a non-linear narrative to tell the story of a woman who tries to start over after her life falls apart.

Before her downfall, Jasmine Francis was part of New York’s elite. Jasmine’s husband, Hal, was able to provide her with a luxurious lifestyle because he made a fortune defrauding other people. The FBI eventually arrests Hal for his crimes and confiscates his assets, leaving Jasmine penniless.

Now that she is homeless, Jasmine has no other option but to live with her sister, Ginger, in San Francisco. By the way, she was also one of Hal’s former victims. When Ginger and her former husband, Augie, won the lottery, they gave it all to Hal to invest. When the conman lost all of their money, their marriage also went downhill.

However, Jasmine has a couple of secrets of her own. Here comes the big plot twist: Jasmine is the one who put Hal in prison! She did it as retaliation for his affairs and for trying to divorce her. Out of rage, Jasmine called the FBI, which led to his arrest and subsequent suicide. Also, her son, Danny, knows what she did, hence their estranged relationship.

In the present time, everybody seems to have to move on. Ginger has a new man, Chilli, whom her sister disapproves of. Jasmine herself already has her eyes set on her next “target”: Dwight. He is rich, a widow, a diplomat, and an aspiring congressman—totally Jasmine’s type.

During the courtship period, Jasmine plays her part very well and omits certain facts about her past. While Jasmine is scoring points in her love life, Ginger is also trying to “upgrade”. She “ditches” Chilli and goes for a man named Al, who turned out to be a letdown as he is married.

Things between Dwight and Jasmine get serious, and when he asks her to marry him, Jasmine gladly accepts. However, karma strikes when the couple goes shopping for the engagement ring. Jasmine runs into Augie, who tells Dwight about her shady past. Now that the truth is out, Dwight calls off the engagement.

The ending of “Blue Jasmine” shows Ginger and Jasmine getting into a heated fight. Before leaving, Jasmine lies to Ginger and tells her that she is going to marry Dwight and move in with him. A disoriented Jasmine wanders the streets, and after a while, she finally sits on a park bench, talking to herself.

“Blue Jasmine” is a great study and portrayal of mental illness done with a dash of humour.

Mental illness is, most of the time, gradual and insidious. As a matter of fact, we never see Jasmine as a mentally ill person until we see her talking to herself on a bench. Actually, there were some signs in the beginning.

When Jasmine was flying first class in the opening scene, she was in reality talking to herself. The lady sitting next to her was a complete stranger. In retrospect, she wasn’t that engaged in what Jasmine had to say, but she was rather trying to act polite.

Jasmine’s “delusional behaviour” reflects her inability to cope with what happened. Somehow she still lives in the past, a time where she was rich and “happy”. Just when she had a “break”, her life took another 360-degree turn, and she was back at square one.

After breaking up with Dwight, Jasmine suffers another mental breakdown, which leads her to have incoherent thoughts and wander aimlessly around the streets of San Francisco. Even the lady sitting at the bench slowly walks away, she’s afraid of Jasmine.

Ironically, Jasmine Francis is the one who caused her own downfall.

Had Jasmine let Hal quietly divorce her, maybe she would’ve been able to keep her comfortable lifestyle. Moreover, Jasmine would still have a relationship with Danny, who deeply resents his mother for sending his father to prison.

After Hal’s arrest, she lost her husband, her son, and her wealth. Although Jasmine almost had a shot at rebuilding a new life with Dwight, she had to learn her lesson first. Actions have consequences, and running into Augie was just a reminder of that.

Jasmine wasn’t actively defrauding people. However, she knew how Hal was making his money and kept her mouth shut because it benefited her. So, in a way, one could say that Jasmine was Hal’s accomplice, which makes her guilty of his crimes too.

The protagonist of “Blue Jasmine” is flawed and very unlikeable.

Underneath the stylish clothes and snobbish front lies a person who is unwell. Jasmine Francis is someone who drinks way too much to function properly. Also, she has a dangerous pill addiction. Despite her unfortunate circumstances, it’s really hard to feel an ounce of sympathy for her because of her bratty personality.

Jasmine despises Ginger’s acquaintances, whom she deems “low-life”, yet she has very few talents herself. A prime example of this would be her aspirations to become an interior designer. This woman has no computer skills to start with, how is she going to finish an online interior design course?

The relationships between the characters are complex, unraveling a web of secrets, deceit, and betrayal.

By the way, Jasmine’s “little romance” with Dwight was nothing but a business transaction for her. She never loved Dwight. This woman loved the idea of being a future congressman’s wife, which could’ve been her golden ticket to return to New York’s top 1%. Having said that, Jasmine wasn’t in love with Dwight, but with his lifestyle.

Perhaps Hal was the only man that Jasmine ever loved, which is kind of sad. Love indeed makes people do crazy things. Unwilling to let Hal go, Jasmine turned him to the police. After her fall from grace, Ginger was the only one who came to her rescue, yet Jasmine insists on treating her sister poorly.

Deep inside, Jasmine hates other people’s happiness. Before parting ways with Ginger, Jasmine lied to her sister about marrying Dwight to save face. Jasmine is a prideful person, she can’t stand the sight of others seeing her struggle. By the way, Jasmine never really cared about Ginger, if she did, she wouldn’t have let Augie give his money to Hal.

“Blue Jasmine” concludes with an ambiguous ending. Jasmine’s mental health deteriorates after missing a chance to regain her social status.

Towards the end, it’s evident that Jasmine is going through a mental breakdown again. However, this time, she might not come back. First, Dwight left her, then her son Danny rejected her. It’s almost certain that Jasmine might never be a mentally sane person again.

It’s interesting to note how people judge each other based on appearance, social status, and surroundings.

As mentioned before, Jasmine has been mentally ill for a while. Nonetheless, the way she presents herself influences how others treat her. The first lady on the plane was willing to listen to her rambling because Jasmine had a put-together image of herself. However, the last lady on the bench “ran away” from Jasmine because she looked messy and disheveled.

Final Thoughts

In my opinion, “Blue Jasmine” is one of Woody Allen’s finest works. It has amazing storytelling and a great ensemble of actors. Nothing feels overdone, and the main focus lies on the characters’ background stories.

By the way, Jasmine Francis is one hell of a character: she’s a horrible person, but she’s intriguing. It’s almost like watching a train wreck: you don’t want to stare at it, yet you can’t look away. This is all thanks to Cate Blanchett and her spectacular performance as Jasmine Francis. The film wouldn’t have been as memorable without her.

Overall, “Blue Jasmine” is one of the films that reminds people to be mindful of their decisions. Whether one likes to admit it or not, actions have consequences. In addition, no one can ever really escape from the past, and karma always comes around.