Woody Allen, 2013
#19, 2013 Skandies
The reason Jasmine is blue, we learn in flashback, is that her husband Hal, a multimillionaire property developer and investment manager, turned out to be a womanizing swindler, and instead of winning the Republican nomination for president he was arrested and committed suicide in prison. Now penniless, Jasmine moves to a curious version of San Francisco inhabited entirely by east coast types, where she attempts to reboot her life.
I don't have much to say about this one, but one thing did occur to me. Nowadays we hear a lot about "the gig economy", but even back when the years still started with 1, it was frequently observed that while members of past generations could get a job and expect to work at that company until they retired, we Gen-Xers could expect to change not just jobs but careers half a dozen times in our lifetime. Blue Jasmine puts forth a world in which the same is true not just of careers, but of lives. This is not the first time Jasmine has rebooted: we learn that she grew up as Jeanette, adopted by a not particularly privileged family, and was able to reinvent herself as a trophy wife by happening to go to the right party when she was twenty. Her stepson, in the aftermath of his father's arrest, tears everything down and starts over: drops out of Harvard, moves across the country, gets married, sells guitars for a living. The adoptive sister Jasmine moves in with has also seen the fundamental circumstances of her life rewritten a few times, as she and her working-class husband win the lottery, lose their windfall to Hal's scam, and split up; now she has a new boyfriend who's about to move in, but considers hitting the reset button yet again to swap in a different guy. Jasmine's new boyfriend has detailed plans for his own personal relaunch, and even Hal has dealt with upswings and downswings, having lost a fortune before gaining a new one through fraud.
I wonder how many people can relate to this sort of thing. I'm not talking about mere changes in life circumstances, like going off to college or getting married — those tend to be changes that people had envisioned in advance. I'm talking about ripping up your plans and heading down a different path from the one you'd been following: dropping out of school, say, or getting divorced. Me, I made my own move from the east coast to start over in the Bay Area back in 2005, following a previous cross-country starting-over move six years earlier (and another one two years before that), and preceding a stationary personal apocalypse in the first half of the 2010s. But I honestly don't have much of a sense of what constitutes a typical ratio of continuity to catastrophe and where my experience fits on the bell curve.