This is the story of a woman who calls herself Jasmine, but grew up Jeanette. She wanted to reinvent herself, which she calls being swept off her feet. She abandoned college for marriage to a man who made himself a millionaire & allowed her to thrive among the wealthy of NYC. Angry at his traducing her, she called the FBI on him. His crimes brought him to jail, where he killed himself.
Jasmine cannot reinvent herself again. She is in love with the life she lived & the unhappy end teaches her nothing. She finds herself another man, who might rise by prestige in politics rather than money in business, & give her the life that so many admire or envy.
There is a lot to be said for Jasmine. She is an elegant woman. Are those born to wealth more deserving? Is legal wealth more elegant? A woman who does not want to earn money, but would spend it must find a man or the government. But we only see her ugly destruction & at the end she is as nothing. Think of Gatsby – had he been a woman; & married for money rather than acquired it by crime; & did not die for love, but lived in misery.
The final scene shows her very plain sister playing around the house with her vulgar soon-to-be new husband. He claims the last slice of pizza; she daringly seizes it; he chases her around the house he’s been meaning to move into – we do not see them anymore – saying: That’s mine. After a long ugly story about greed & the desire to reinvent oneself, that’s not funny anymore. There is no innocence left for happiness.
Jasmine offered her sister a chance to invest her lottery money in her husband’s business. Everyone ended up bankrupt. This ruined her marriage. Her old husband destroys Jasmine’s prospects of a new marriage: There is no way to reinvent yourself if people know your reputation. He also says he is going to Alaska to lay oil-pipe. What man will not do for greed…
Why does identity depend on acquisition? Is it more pleasure or reputation? Jasmine is not a creature of striving, far from it, she elegantly conceals all striving, as if beauty could justify or ground striving. The life she lived turns out to be an illusion. What is the alternative? Both legal & poetic justice seem to be moved by revenge. Imaginations of happiness cannot be forgotten & return to poison people’s lives. People want things & soon add an angry hurt to their failures. The rich & the poor, the vulgar & the educated are all out to hurt someone to get theirs.
The latest result of Woody Allen’s film-a-year habit, recalling life without comedy