Thursday, Oct 06, 2022
Outlook.com
opinion

Baby, Light My Pyre

Statutory warning: Cigarette smoking is injurious to cinema

Baby, Light My Pyre
Illustration by Sorit
Baby, Light My Pyre
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

An intense, closely observed character study of a New York socialite facing penury, stuck with relationships gone astray and a lost family, Blue Jasmine is a return to form for veteran filmmaker Woody Allen. Some critics are even calling it his strongest film in recent times. And it has Cate Blanchett at her finest as the lead. Blanchett is stirring as Jasmine: beautiful but broken, arrogant but fragile, self-seeking but also blatantly used and exploited, deceived and deluded, in irrevocable dec­l­ine and tragic denial at once. Only her regal posture and easy style masks her utterly crushed spirit. Blanchett internalises the character, brings it alive physically with every twitch of her haun­ted eyes and every move and shake of the hand. She lives the woman abandoned by the world, and by her own self.

If this was an ideal world, we should have seen this film hit our theatres last Friday, October 4. But it’s not, and it has not. Annoyed at the mandatory anti-smoking ‘insert­ions’ here, Allen decided not to release the film in India, thereby officially becoming the first filmmaker (and Blue Jasmine the first film) to refuse to bow down to the health ministry directive. His decision was on artistic grounds, that he wouldn’t allow his film to be tampered with. Irony is that though there are many sequences of alcohol consumption and other indiscretions, there are barely two scenes in the film with the cancer-stick, both featuring Andrew Dice Clay as the disgruntled former husband of Jasmine’s sister. Even in these scenes Clay barely brings the cigarette to his lips.

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