Revisiting Blue Jasmine

Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, a Sony Pictures Classics release

Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine, a Sony Pictures Classics release

I just wanted to post here a review I wrote for Provincetown Magazine when Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine came out last year. My Oscar Thoughts on this one? Cate Blanchett deserves the Best Actress award.

Enjoy (or visit the original review here)….

For many fans of Woody Allen, each new film brings with it the promise of his past brilliance and the threat of his resting on his laurels, as he has on occasion. A filmmaker as prolific as Allen simply cannot always make a masterpiece. But with his latest effort, Blue Jasmine, starring Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, and Andrew Dice Clay, Allen gives us another insightful, character-driven film.

Blanchett turns in a powerful, at times very funny portrayal of Jasmine, a woman who once had everything money could buy and lost it when her wealthy husband Hal (Baldwin) was charged with unspecified financial crimes à la Bernie Madoff. She decides to reinvent herself by calling on her sister Ginger (Hawkins), who lives a working-class life in San Francisco that is the antithesis of everything Jasmine values. When Jasmine moves in, she disrupts her sister’s plans to marry local mechanic Chili (Bobby Cannavale), telling her she deserves better than the “losers” she’s attracted to. Meanwhile, Jasmine struggles to find herself in the absence of a man to take care of her.

As with most Allen films, Blue Jasmine features a great ensemble cast (also including Peter Sarsgaard and Louis C.K., among others), but it is Blanchett’s performance that really makes the film, along with the incredible lines Allen has written for her. She embodies the desperation all of the characters feel to some degree, while also managing to deliver hilarious lines with the complete lack of self-awareness that is intrinsic to this character.

As always, Allen excels here at giving us terribly flawed characters whom we want to follow as they try to work their ways out of the holes they’ve dug themselves into. Jasmine is a snob, an elitist, and someone who is not honest with herself, but she is also fragile–given to talking to herself, addicted to Xanax, and an alcoholic. Her whole world has crumbled in the wake of her husband’s misdeeds. (In this way, the film deals with the terrible consequences of so-called white-collar crime, as well.) But as the film progresses, we see that she also suffers from tremendous guilt for the role she may have played in hurting the people around her. In a strange way, we want her to find her way out of this darkness, even though we know she probably won’t.

Blue Jasmine is another creative success for Allen, with its darkly humorous writing and a startlingly moving performance from Blanchett.

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