The film opens with Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) on a plane headed to San Francisco while sitting next to an old woman. She is going on about her life in which she quit studying anthropology at Boston University to marry a man named Hal. This conversation extends all the way to the airport until the woman spots her husband while Jasmine is still talking. The man asks his wife who Jasmine is, and the woman replies that she just appeared to be talking to herself at first and then started going on to the woman about her life.
Jasmine arrives at the home of her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins). While she is adjusting herself, Jasmine sits down and starts to reminisce about her life in New York married to Hal (Alec Baldwin) with his son Danny (Charlie Tahan; later played by Alden Ehrenreich). She enjoyed her lavish lifestyle, though it's shown that while she has her flashback, she is talking to herself as though she is speaking to someone else. She seems to hear the song "Blue Moon", which she says, is the song that was playing when she first met Hal.
We meet Ginger picking up her sons Matthew (Daniel Jenks) and Johnny (Max Rutherford) from her ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) from a motel. Augie hears about Jasmine coming over and it's clear that he bears ill will toward her, saying she is a fake (her real name is Jeanette) and that she and Hal stole their money, leaving them with very little, and now that she's broke, she suddenly needs her sister. Ginger defends her sister, saying it was her husband who was the crook and that Jasmine knew nothing of his schemes, and not only is she broke, but she's also very screwed up. Augie says that women like Jasmine have a tendency to look the other way regarding financial matters. It is shown through another NY flashback that "looking the other way" was a thing in Jasmine's circle of friends.
Ginger arrives at her apartment to meet Jasmine. Jasmine tells her sister that she's going to be living there for a while until she's back on her feet. She still yearns for her rich life and is not prepared to live this way. Ginger's kids ask Jasmine about her situation, since Ginger has mentioned her before. Through this, we learn that Jasmine and Ginger were both adopted, and that Ginger ran away from home due to her jealousy of Jasmine.
While in New York one week, Ginger and Augie had gone to visit Jasmine and Hal in their luxurious home. Jasmine was never too fond of Augie, thinking of him as a loser. She takes Ginger around shopping for a while before they return home, and Ginger mentions to Hal that Augie is planning on starting his own construction company with $200,000 that they won from the lottery. Jasmine suggests that they give the money to her and Hal as an investment so they can help out on this business venture and possibly help increase the profits.
One afternoon, as Ginger and Augie are riding a cab through the city, Ginger spots Hal walking on the streets with another woman. He takes her against a wall and kisses her passionately. The couple goes to a party later that evening with Jasmine and Hal, and Ginger sees Hal talking to the same woman. Jasmine says her name is Raylene (Kathy Tong) and that she has been a friend for years. Ginger asks Jasmine if she can trust Raylene, and Jasmine is more than certain that she can and that Hal is not the type to cheat. Ginger later asks Augie if he would tell a friend of his if he saw his wife cheating on him with another man, and Augie says he would tell him because he would have his friend's back.
Back in San Francisco, Ginger takes Jasmine to a date to meet her fiancee Chili (Bobby Canavale). With Chili is his friend Eddie (Max Casella), who Chili figured would be a good blind date for Jasmine. She clearly just wants to drink her martini, but Chili and Eddie keep pestering her with questions like what kind of work she's done or what kind of work she's looking for, but Jasmine says she just wants to go back to finish school. It also turns out that Chili knows about Jasmine from what Ginger mentioned, and it is revealed that Hal committed suicide by hanging himself in prison. The four go on their double date until the guys take the girls back to Ginger's place. Chili stops Jasmine and tells her that Eddie wants her phone number but was too shy to ask her himself. He also mentions that Eddie can get her a job working for a dentist, but she is none too eager to work as a receptionist. When she goes back up to Ginger's place, she argues with her, saying that Chili is just as big a loser as Augie.
Jasmine relents and takes the receptionist job working for Dr. Flicker (Michael Stuhlbarg). She is frustrated with having to schedule appointments for the patients when they can't figure out a good date and time. She also goes back to school where she takes a computer course, though she appears to have no idea what she's doing. She studies one evening while Ginger has Chili and his friends over to watch a game and drink some beer. This leads to another argument while Jasmine tries to take her medication. While she steps out of the apartment, Jasmine has another flashback to her NY life where an older Danny is bragging about Hal doing a guest lecture at Harvard where he studies, and how he is suddenly a big celebrity on campus. This leads to Jasmine shouting in the streets as though she is talking to Danny, making the onlookers think she is crazy.
Dr. Flicker starts to make advances toward Jasmine. He takes her out for a drink even though she says she is seeing somebody. This culminates at work where Flicker starts telling Jasmine that the way she dresses arouses him and that she's very alluring. He puts his hands on her, making her very uncomfortable. Then he lays a kiss on her, and she quits. She goes to her class and tells her classmate Sharon (Shannon Finn) about it. Sharon tells Jasmine to sue him, but she refuses to go to court again. Jasmine then asks Sharon if she knows any men that she could introduce her to.
We see Jasmine at a party that Sharon invited her to. She's also brought Ginger, who is dancing with a man named Al (Louis CK). Jasmine meets a man named Dwight Westlake (Peter Sarsgaard), who is an aspiring politician and recent widower. Jasmine makes up a story about who she is and appears to find a connection with him.
Ginger and Al are walking together near a beach. She tells him that she doesn't want to appear like the easy type, but Al appears to be a nice enough guy to understand that. They then go to his car to make love.
Chili goes to Ginger's place to confront her since someone told him that they saw Ginger out with another guy. He blames Jasmine for this, at which point she intervenes in the argument. The phone rings, and Jasmine knows it's for her, but Chili thinks it's Al, so he angrily tears the phone off the wall and throws it. After he leaves, Jasmine gets a call from Dwight, and they make plans to see each other. When they hang up, Jasmine breaks into tears.
Jasmine starts dating Dwight as they go look at houses. Dwight eventually falls in love with Jasmine and asks her if she has pictured life married to him. The question seems to fluster Jasmine, but she agrees to the idea.
Chili goes to Ginger's job at the supermarket while she's bagging groceries. He starts to break down and cry in front of everybody while telling Ginger he loves her, and her boss comes in to calm him down and take him away.
Jasmine goes home to find Ginger wearing a pretty dress and wearing a strong perfume (or fragrance, as she and Al call it). When Ginger mentions the perfume is French, it triggers another memory in Jasmine to when she met with her friend Nora (Annie McNamara) in NY after thinking Hal was having an affair. Nora reveals ALL of Hal's affairs, including Raylene, a personal trainer, his lawyer, and an au pair.
Jasmine and Dwight go to a jewelry store where they run into Augie on the streets. He makes a comment about Jasmine being broke, as well as that Danny is married and working at a secondhand music store in Oakland. Dwight takes Jasmine away as she is forced to confess to her lies, and they break up.
Ginger makes a call to Al, but she learns that he is married and that his wife found out about their affair. She hangs up in disbelief.
Jasmine visits Danny at the shop where he works. He had hoped Augie wouldn't tell her where he worked. Jasmine asks him why he gave up Harvard for this, but Danny says he's happy with his life now. He may have hated Hal for his crimes, which led him to drop out of school, but he hates Jasmine even more, and it is shown why through yet another flashback - Jasmine had gone to confront Hal about his affairs, but he tells her that he is in love with this new younger woman that he is seeing and that he plans on marrying her. When he leaves, Jasmine breaks down, and then she grabs her phone to call the police. Outside, Hal is promptly arrested. Danny has since hated Jasmine for ratting Hal out.
Upon returning home, Jasmine finds Ginger and Chili together again, somehow both having forgiven each other. She argues with Ginger again until she lies that she is going away with Dwight, and she's moving out. She goes to take a shower while Ginger and Chili play-fight over the last slice of pizza. Jasmine then quietly slips out.
Jasmine walks to a park and sits down on a bench next to a woman where she begins muttering to herself. The woman leaves as Jasmine starts talking about Danny and how he knew that she called the police on Hal. She suddenly starts to hear "Blue Moon" playing, muttering to herself how she has since forgotten the words to the song.
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