Blue Collar Jasmine

Blue Jasmine is bad in ways that Allen's movies have been bad for at least two decades. It's too clearly enamored with well-to-do lifestyles to offer a meaningful critique of them. The psychological insights feel like hand-me-downs from other movies: [Sally] Hawkins seems to have been cast to inspire memories of her performance in Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky; the portrait of upper-class hypocrisy (as in Allen's Match Point) recalls numerous films by Claude Chabrol. Most uncomfortably, Allen seems to have no idea how contemporary working people talk and behave. Ginger's boorish boyfriend—a mechanic named Chili who ends up giving Jasmine a good talking-to—is something of a Frankenstein monster, stitched together from pieces of Stanley Kowalski and the Fonz. The talented Bobby Cannavale seems unsure of whether he should take the part seriously or play it as caricature.


Not to dispute Ben Sach's central point–that Woody Allen has never seriously challenged his middle-class, middlebrow audience–but questioning the authenticity of a betrayal of a class of people raises another question: What would an authentic mechanic look and talk like?

In any case, Blue Jasmine's plot dates back to the Weimar cinema of the 1920s, in which a number of films featured wealthy heroes (they were usually men) forced to associate with the working classes, the last repository of the bourgeois values.

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