Woody Allen hits a chord on pitch with ‘Blue Jasmine.’ With a mixture of sympathy and disbelief we watch Cate Blanchett electrify us as Jasmine, a woman unraveling from an unexpected end to a delusioned marriage with financial crook Hal (Alec Baldwin), dumping her problems and opinions on her new host and sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins). When she tries to start over in San Francisco, her destructive naivety with men and habits of entitlement resurface to join her dwindling mental state and cocktails of Xanax and alcohol that make her worse for wear. At her finest, Jasmine is oblivious or faking it and at her worst everyone but Ginger is convinced she’s developed a real stroke of crazy. Blanchett’s display of manic versus sane, essentially showing two sides of her life, is crisp and convincing. From her blinded sense of calm in a fairytale marriage to her anxious and ever-burdened loss of purpose as the fooled single woman in her unwinds, Blanchett gives the screen a vibrant texture bursting with passion both good and bad. Allen builds her character boldly, flashing back between Hal and Jasmine in a ‘substantial’ life and then Ginger and Jasmine, still very symptomatic of her fresh nervous breakdown. With an enthusiastic cast to react to Jasmine’s behavior, including Andrew Dice Clay, Bobby Cannavale, and Peter Sarsgaard, we feel tied to Jasmine while amazed how she’s still standing. You may feel like you’re jumping out of your own skin a little bit when watching 'Blue Jasmine;' that’s how you can tell it’s working. This is the better side of Woody Allen, crystal clear.
September 26, 2013