Inspired by Tennessee William’s Blanche DuBois, but much better kept, Jasmine may not be at the end of her rope. Perhaps, like Ingmar Bergman, who provided a sequel to Scenes From a Marriage, Woody Allen will revisit Jasmine at some future date.
As Hal’s trophy wife, Jasmine thrives. Giving parties, supporting causes, and lunching with other trophy wives, she is at home and in her element, usually dressed to the nines, with a drink in her hand. As long as she ignores the rumors that Hal is up to financial monkey business and keeps her blinders on when it comes to his infidelity, everything is just fine. New York’s upper set is her oyster and she is a shiny pearl.
Jasmine despises the working class. She was raised to believe that she is better than other people by the family that adopted her. Her adopted sib, Ginger, got out as quickly as she could recognizing that Jeanette, who renamed herself, Jasmine French, was the favorite child. Ginger is a good person and content with a working class life, but deep down inside, she agrees with Jasmine’s assessment that she has poor judgment when it comes to men. The evidence supports Jasmine’s appraisal.
Jasmine could be the poster child for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. She also shows some signs of Schizoaffective Disorder. Jasmine’s pervasive pattern of grandiosity is introduced early in the film when she tells Ginger that she has no money, but she has still managed to fly first class to San Francisco with her Louis Vuitton luggage.
When Jasmine meets Dwight at a party, she exaggerates her Interior Design resume, perhaps to get a job, but more likely to wrangle a new husband with money and potential. Dwight is someone who knows something about fashion. She identifies Dwight as a person of high status, one of her people. He might understand her because he comes from a higher place than Ginger and low life friends.
Jasmine is an alien in Ginger’s South Van Ness working class world. Menial work, school, and Ginger’s friends drive her to excessive drink and Xanax. It’s only when she is invited to a party in Marin, where she meets Dwight, a man of wealth, and charm, that she appears to be on the road to recovery. So what if she has to over sold herself with lies about her past and a false resume. A counterfeit pedigree might just get her back in the game.
Jasmine’s sense of entitlement is all pervasive, about the only time she isn’t waiting for someone to get her a drink, or helping herself to one, is when she is forced by circumstance to take a position as a receptionist. Jasmine’s expressions of disgust and exhaustion, when waiting on people, reveals a total lack of empathy. Jasmine’s holier than thou attitude attracts the attention of her employer, the aptly named, Dr. Flicker. Sexual harassment is the last straw for Jasmine, but it does give her a socially acceptable reason to quit her low class job.
Besides being a total narcissist, Jasmine’s behavior shows signs of Schizoaffective Disorder. Jasmine is prone to mood swings. She is quick to criticize when triggered. She has delusions of grandeur. She likes expensive things and believes she should have them. Jasmine has hallucinations in the form of flashbacks. Her speech is disorganized and so is her thinking. She talks to herself. She has difficulty in goal-directed behavior. Her problems studying for school are a good example of avolition.
When Jasmine experiences an affective flattening of emotional expression in a restaurant, Chili and his friend, Eddie both recognize that something isn’t right. Eddie even comments on it, bringing Jasmine out of her stupor.
If Jasmine remains stuck in the working class world her bounce back potential is nil without some major behavior modification. Ginger can’t help her because Jasmine doesn’t respect her. In Ginger’s world, Jasmine would have to lower herself to accepting charity from Social Services to get back on her feet. If she can get back to New York, she might be able to find shelter and support from one of her old friends who are part of the social elite.
If someone, preferably someone rich, were to come along and take care of Jasmine – give her a nice house, feed her, provide her with servants – her confidence would return and she might once again take an interest in life. She might even cut down on the drugs and booze.
Jasmine is more at home with her New York City friends, having lunch out or playing hostess, than she is anywhere else in her life. The social status and buying power afforded by being Hal’s wife is her greater reality, perhaps more real than her affection for Danny, Hal’s son from a previous marriage. Unfortunately, her expectations for Danny are that he becomes a Little Hal, a sanitized version of Big Hal. Jasmine is more devastated by Danny’s loss of social status, when she visits the music shop where he works, than she is with his anger that she betrayed his father by snitching to the FBI. Besides, it’s obvious he is in no position to take care of Jasmine, even if he shared her affection. Jasmine needs a friend more than she needs any member of her family. Unfortunately, she wants a new Hal. Dwight might have fit the bill if she were honest with him, but foolish pride got in the way.
Jasmine is a delicate flower. If she isn’t treated in the manner she has come to expect, she might wither away on a park bench somewhere in San Francisco. She has a low threshold for adversity. If she doesn’t get what she wants she gets stressed. Stress leads to Xanax and alcohol. She copes by getting numb and shutting off or shutting down the world around her. The life going on in her head is a better place and she shares that world through one-sided conversations. You never quite know who she is talking too and you are a lucky soul, if you can get a word in edgewise.