As the film opens we are in an airplane watching a woman named Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), dressed in a white Chanel suit, jewelry and personality all screaming wealth, as she talks nonstop to people that do not know her, nor appear interested in her story. After all, she is not engaging them in an actual conversation, just expects them to pay rapt attention as she complains. We follow Jasmine from the plane to baggage-claim, then to a cab, which lets her off in front of a rather seedy apartment in San Francisco. By the time Jasmine exits the taxi, wheeling $10,000 worth of Louis Vuitton luggage, Woody Allen has already provided us with a basic understanding of the backstory for Jasmine French as a former New York socialite, whose fall from that world was so complete that she sees no option but to move in with her blue-collar sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins).
Allen makes it clear that Jasmine not only feels the apartment is not remotely up to her standards, but has no more fondness for her sister than for her residence. We see that Ginger has always felt envious of her sister, she was the pretty one, the golden-girl, one with a sense of style that helped her land a millionaire husband and the accompanying lifestyle. The story is told in part through flashbacks that reveal her former life and the secrets behind its rise and fall. When you are on top of the world, clearly it's a long way down.
In one of the flashbacks, we are shown a time when Ginger and her former husband, Augie, (Andrew Dice Clay), had made a rare visit to New York to see her sister. Jasmine made little secret of her lack of interest in spending time with them; her rich husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) sent them off in a limousine to tour the city, then paid for a hotel rather than having the guests stay in their home. The following day at Hal's country estate Augie proudly tells how he has won $200,000 in the lottery and plans to use that money to start his own construction company. Jasmine suggests that Augie invest the total amount in a new - and obviously to the audience, shady - business venture of Hal's. Riding back in the chauffeured limo, Ginger chances to see Hal leave a restaurant with another woman and kiss her, confirming that he's cheating on Jasmine.
We gradually see how Jasmine's life of privilege and wealth unraveled. Her husband's thefts, financial maneuvering and schemes grew more and more dangerous, business partners removed themselves from his projects stating they feared prison, but Jasmine maintained her willful ignorance. Hal's infidelities, however, proved too much for her, and in revenge she reported his corporate fraud to the law. He was arrested, and his racket was publicly exposed causing scandal and outrage. Jasmine's property, homes, and lavish belongings were seized; her son, feeling shamed and disgraced by his father's crimes, quit Harvard and disappeared. Augie's $200K was lost and with it all hopes of owning his own business; he and Ginger parted ways.
In San Francisco, Jasmine begins a relationship with Dwight (Peter Saarsgard) - successful, wealthy and with political ambitions - whom she sees as a chance of regaining her former glory. She invents a back history involving her husband's career as a surgeon, his death from a heart attack (in reality, he committed suicide in jail) and her career as an interior decorator. Soon, Dwight recommends they get married, which thrills Jasmine. Meanwhile, Ginger dumps her likable boyfriend, Chili (Bobby Canavale), due largely to Jasmine's criticisms, and begins dating the equally likable Al (Louis C.K.), who turns out to be married, which destroys their relationship. In the end, she returns to Chili.
Jasmine's chance of marriage is destroyed when Augie reveals her lies to Dwight. At this point, it is evident that all paths of redemption for Jasmine are gone. We watch as she walks out of Ginger's apartment, her Channel suit disheveled, and sits alone on a park bench, talking to herself - lost without hope.
--Lane J. Lubell of Cinemashadow.com