Jasmine Francis (Cate Blanchett) disembarks in San Francisco after a flight from New York City. She takes a taxi to her sister Ginger's (Sally Hawkins) apartment, where Ginger is dismayed to learn that Jasmine traveled first class despite claiming to be broke. Jasmine has recently suffered a nervous breakdown and, having incurred heavy debts, has been forced to seek refuge with her sister.
A series of flashbacks reveal that Jasmine's husband, money manager Hal Francis (Alec Baldwin), was arrested for running a fraudulent operation with his clients' money. Ginger and her husband, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), were among Hal's victims; he swindled them out of $200,000 of lottery winnings that Augie had wanted to start a business with. Hal committed suicide in prison after being publicly disgraced. Jasmine's step-son Danny (Alden Ehrenreich) dropped out of Harvard and cut himself off completely from Jasmine, believing her to be complicit in Hal's crimes. Ginger and Augie lost everything in the Ponzi scheme and their marriage fell apart. After Hal's death, Jasmine began drinking heavily and abusing anti-anxiety medication. She also developed a habit of talking to herself about her past.
Ginger is now dating a mechanic called Chili (Bobby Cannavale), whom Jasmine detests for his low breeding and coarse manners. She considers becoming an interior designer because of her "great taste" and past experience in decorating her homes. She wants to take online courses, but, having no computer skills, she decides to take a class in computers to gain basic proficiency. With no income, she grudgingly takes a job as a receptionist with a dentist (Michael Stuhlbarg), who pesters her with unwanted sexual advances. She fights him off and quits.
Jasmine's situation improves when she meets a wealthy widower, Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), at a party. Dwight is a diplomat aspiring to become a Congressman. She poses as an interior designer, telling him that her husband was a surgeon who died of a heart attack. Dwight is impressed by her stylishness and invites her to decorate his new home. Ginger begins a romance with Al (Louis C.K.), whom she met at the same party. She breaks up with Chili, who begs her not to leave him. Eventually she finds out that Al is married and gets back with Chili, realizing she has been influenced by Jasmine.
Jasmine develops a romance with Dwight and he is about to buy her an engagement ring when they bump into Augie outside the jewelry store. Augie rails at Jasmine about what Hal did to Ginger and him. Augie also reveals that Danny is living nearby in Oakland and is now married. Dwight is outraged that Jasmine lied to him and calls off the engagement. Jasmine goes to Oakland and finds Danny, who tells Jasmine he never wants to see her again because of what she did to his father.
It is revealed that Jasmine finally learned of Hal's many affairs and confronted him. When he told her he wanted to divorce her to be with a 19-year-old au pair, Jasmine, in a moment of blind rage, called the FBI to inform the authorities of Hal's fraudulent business dealings. This led to his arrest.
Jasmine returns to her sister's apartment and finds Ginger back with Chili, who is moving in now. Jasmine and Chili needle each other, and Jasmine is furious when Ginger takes his side. Jasmine lies to Ginger and claims she is going to marry Dwight, and leaves. Jasmine, now totally unhinged, takes a seat on a park bench and starts muttering to herself.
In late March 2012, it was announced that Cate Blanchett was being considered for the lead role. This was later confirmed along with the rest of the principal cast in June 2012. In preparation for her role, Blanchett explained, "I did a lot of people watching. I drank my fair share of rosé. In the end I had to play the anti-heroine that Woody's written, but of course I thought about the Madoff scandal, because that's the holocaust of the financial crisis. And there are many, many women like that. I followed them like everybody else did, but as an actress you go back and you're slightly more forensic about those relationships."
The film was shot in 2012 in New York City and San Francisco. Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, and Edward Walson served as the film's producers. Sony Pictures Classics distributed the film, marking the sixth collaboration between the label and Allen.
Blue Jasmine had a limited release at six theaters in Los Angeles and New York City on July 26, 2013, and expanded nationwide on August 23, 2013.
Woody Allen refused to release Blue Jasmine in India because the country requires a blurb to be inserted at the bottom of any scenes during which a character is smoking. This is in addition to health warnings that are required to be shown at the beginning and end of the film.
The film received a slow rollout, modeled after the release of Midnight in Paris; it was estimated to have grossed over US$600,000 in its first three days, which took place at six theaters in Los Angeles and New York City. It was Allen's "best-ever opening per-screen average" and the year's highest per-screen average, beating Spring Breakers' "impressive debut on three screens". The film grossed US$33.4 million in the U.S. and US$64.1 million in the rest of the world, resulting in a worldwide gross of US$97.5 million.
Early reviews suggested the film would be rated very highly among Allen's recent offerings, and praised Blanchett's performance as one of her strongest, if not the best of her career: David Denby of The New Yorker stated that "in all, this is the strongest, most resonant movie Woody Allen has made in years". Mick LaSalle, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, wrote that "Blanchett in Blue Jasmine is beyond brilliant, beyond analysis. This is jaw-dropping work, what we go to the movies hoping to see, and we do. Every few years." Andrew Dice Clay's performance was also critically praised in the film.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 91%, with an average rating of 8.1 out of 10, based on 201 reviews. The film is considered a "Certified Fresh", with the site's consensus being "Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine finds the director in peak late-period form -- and benefiting from a superb cast led by Cate Blanchett." On Metacritic, the film received a score of 78/100 based on 47 reviews.
Some critics have argued the film is Allen's response or tribute to the Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire, as it shares a very similar plot and characters. It also features cast members who have previously been associated with the play: Baldwin played the role of Stanley Kowalski on stage in 1992 and in the 1995 adaptation of the play, while Blanchett played the leading role of Blanche DuBois in the Australian production of the play staged by the Sydney Theatre Company in 2008. Other critics and cultural commentators theorized that the story of Jasmine as a "shrill narcissist falling apart" and "in a crisis of self-flagellation after living in denial for years" was modeled on Allen's former companion, Mia Farrow, and that the film is a response to their high-profile and acrimonious break-up.
Blue Jasmine was released on Blu-ray and DVD on January 21, 2014.