OUTTAKES REPORT CARD
Woody Allen is akin to a boxer who can pummel the hell out of his opponent, but just doesn’t have the moxy to put him down for the count. “Blue Jasmine” is typical Allen fare, filled with biting social commentary and a common man bent. The story is anecdotal, providing no conclusion for its tragic heroine. The ensemble cast, headed by Cate Blanchett, does a marvelous job of giving Allen’s work credence, but this is solely for folks who don’t look at films for entertainment, but rather gestalt.
Jasmine, nee Jeanette, is destitute. During her college years, she met and fell in love with a handsome young man, Hal, who made millions and treated her like a goddess. However, Hal was more Shylock than knight in shining armor. His collapse in an insider trading scam leaves Jasmine with no option but to step down the social ladder and seek help from a sister she disowned. As always, Allen writes intense parts that most actors love to perform. However, his stories are generally vignettes with no real conclusion. This one is no exception. It leaves the story unresolved and the viewer hanging.
Allen is able to command top stars for his ensemble films. It is a good thing. It takes actors of this quality to make his films work. Cate Blanchett is excellent is this outing. She acts so well, her slip into madness actually makes sense. Alec Baldwin is enjoyable as he plays a smarmy version of himself, though I did wait anxiously for the Vikings to appear. But, honestly, the highlight is Bobby Cannavale, as Chilli, and seeing the Diceman once again. Cannavale provides the most believable character in this ensemble. Though only a cameo part, Andrew Dice Clay nails his role to the wall. For those of you who remember the Diceman in his heyday: “Little Boy Blue - He needed the money!”
Allen’s films rely heavily on scripting and acting, and any technical elements brought to the forefront would simply detract from the work. Therefore, all the technical elements of “Blue Jasmine” are standard fare.
Amid his social angst, Allen loves to make sardonic commentaries. This film rips on women who depend on men, women who desire and live in the world of the hoi poloi, and women in general. All of the strong, steady characters here are men. Allen also offers a Communist theory, regaling in the plight of the common man while reducing the rich to evil, conceited criminals. With all the headlines recently about dentists taking advantage of their patients (nitrous oxide is a powerful drug), Allen can’t resist but poke some fun at the profession as well. It’s one of the film’s funniest sequences.
KEY SCENE TO LOOK FOR:
1. THE ENGAGEMENT SHOP
This movie, like most of Allen’s films, will leave you unfulfilled. It’s worth seeing, just to see how he draws amazing performances from his cast, but its best saved for quiet, pensive nights or with a group of friends with wine and cheese to follow. Not a way to unwind, and definitely not worth a $10 ticket.
FINAL GRADE: C