Spreading across the U.S., “Blue Jasmine” is earning the attention it deserves. For a man that has made dozens of films, “Blue Jasmine” will likely be considered one of Woody Allen’s classics. Reminiscent of “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Blue Jasmine” is a modern, topical character drama that beautifully, though harshly, captures the present.
Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) has left her life of luxury on the East Coast after her husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) was charged for his corrupted business deals. Forced to seek sanctuary with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco after having a breakdown, Jasmine wants to start her life afresh but can’t let go of the past. She feels humiliated living in a tiny apartment and looking for work as a secretary, but she has no skills or job history. Unappreciative of the help from Ginger and without acknowledging that she cost Ginger her dream, too, Jasmine degrades Ginger’s life and boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale) and convinces her to aim higher. All the while, she copes with vodka and Xanax.
Jasmine is one of Woody Allen’s least likeable characters. The audience is rarely made to feel sympathy for her struggles; she deserves everything she gets. Jasmine changed her childhood name (Jeanette) to escape her average lifestyle and survives by lying to others and herself. She uses everyone around her and views them as beneath her. Jasmine is out of touch, everything from always flying first class to having no idea how to use a computer. It makes one wonder if the entire film is Allen’s criticism of trophy wives.
Relying on very little humor (compared to most Allen flicks), the film is entirely supported by its phenomenal performances. Each actor lives their part. Cate Blanchett is one of the finest actresses of today, and “Blue Jasmine” might be her greatest accomplishment. Sally Hawkins is perfectly cast as her lively sister along with Alec Baldwin as her slimy husband. The women are balanced out with an amazing team of male actors, along with Baldwin; Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Max Casella, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alden Ehrenreich, Louis C.K., and Peter Sarsgaard comprise the rest of the male cast.
The jumbled storytelling going from present to past almost doesn’t work (slightly disjointed), until we realize that our lead character can’t separate the two. You almost expect Jasmine to quote that she’s “always depended on the kindness of strangers,” but her ramblings in the final scene are able to conclude this story of a narcissistic socialite that can’t reach her idea of perfection and won’t accept the hand she’s been dealt.
Rating for “Blue Jasmine:” A
For more information on this film or to view its trailer, click here.
“Blue Jasmine” is playing at a few theaters in Columbus, including Gateway and Drexel. For showtimes, click here.