Jasmine, Job and the Blues

Last night I watched Woody Allen’s latest movie, Blue Jasmine, with an award-tipped performance by Cate Blanchette. She plays the title role, and goes to see her sister Ginger in San Francisco (played by the excellent Sally Hawkins) when her life falls apart and she loses everything. It’s a sad tale of a woman falling apart after her husband destroys her hopes and dreams, breaking her heart a million times over. Jasmine is a complex, fragile person. A woman who placed so much of her value in having lots of money and social standing. When that house of cards came tumbling down she needs support and help from the sister she had mostly ignored previously. But Blue Jasmine is not easy to live with.

As I watched Jasmine fall apart, popping pills and knocking back the drink, I wondered about the Biblical characters who collapse in on themselves. You could say it was the parable of the rich fool played out in other clothes. Or the heart-rending tale of Michal, King David’s first wife, seriously damaged by the men in her life. Bit it was Saul, Michal’s father, who was the first character who came to mind. He became self-obsessed and, like Jasmine, became delusional and destructive. His daughter MIchal, perhaps desperate for a reliable man, fell in love with David the first time he walked into the room. But her father used her as bait to catch the boy wonder and when the boy wonder himself abandoned her, her father then threw her at another man. Years later, after years of no correspondence, David came looking for Michal and dragged her away from that now stable relationship to adorn his new home. She never recovered and lived out a bitter life.

Job is the other character who comes to mind. The man who, like Jasmine, loses everything fairly swiftly. What will become of him? Well, refusing to curse God he instead wishes he had never been born. Like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life he prays for time to be turned back and his life to have never been. We even get a glimpse of the difference it would have made. In Job 29 there is a fantastic description of the godly Job and his influence on others. In Job 30 we see what has become of others now Job is no longer around to make a difference. The young and old have become wayward and callous, no longer benefiting from the hope he brought into their lives.

Job does collapse, but not quite in the way that Jasmine does. He hurls a fistful of angry prayers at a silent sky and argues with his well-meaning, but misguided mates. In the end a young guy shows up who is literally the voice of God to him, and Job starts all over again. He gets a kind of new birth. With a new bigger vision of God and his former glories returned. Though he could surely have never been the same again after his time of trials. Ironically the end of Job is a little like a Hollywood ending, with the man and his new family living happily ever after. Woody Allen however won’t let Jasmine get away with that. She is left, like so many folks in the world, struggling with herself and her madness. Still looking for salvation.

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