Something outta nothing – For years I have promoted one independent film after another, proclaiming that you will never find a more honest picture on the big screen. Money never gets in the way of these low budget films, which is why they feel rawer than others typically. Sure, there are exceptions to that rule, but ‘indies’ usually fly under the radar until Oscar time. That’s just how it has been for years, but that won’t stop me from promoting one when it actually is in theaters, like “Blue Jasmine” has been lately.
What’s it about? The story is actually quite simple when you break it down. But, with Woody Allen, it never feels that way at first. Here, it all starts and ends with Jasmine Francis (Cate Blanchett), who after a very public and ugly divorce from her husband Hal (Alec Baldwin), decides to move to San Francisco for a fresh start. Turns out Hal was a dirty business man and all the years of living as a multimillionaire couple in New York City was a lie, leaving Jasmine with very little options and a tortured mind when it all fell apart. So, she left and moved into her sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) apartment, a sister her ex-husband stole from using one of his bad business ideas. Luckily for Jasmine, her sister did not hold her at fault, going as far as to land her a job as a dental assistant, a big step down for someone that once called Park Avenue home. She tried to make it work too, but when her boss made sexual advances toward her one day, she quit deciding to study interior design. Shortly thereafter she met wannabe U.S. Congressman Dwight Westlake (Peter Sarsgaard), who had just bought a new home that needed some help. But, what seemed to be a perfect match at first quickly turned ugly when Jasmine’s past was exposed resulting in an odd yet fitting conclusion.
Who was in it? At first it doesn’t look like really anyone is in this film outside of Cate Blanchett, but after awhile you start to appreciate the cast Woody put together. Sure, Alec Baldwin was present, but as much as he has done in his career on and of the big screen, nothing substantial appears. I mean, it just feels like his name carries some weight, but when you breakdown his resume, there’s not a whole lot that stands out. Here, he managed to play the good and bad guy, which I give him credit for, but it’s not some breakthrough performance. That titled goes to Cate Blanchett, who dominated this film from start to finish. I thought I have seen everything from this Oscar-winning actress, but she managed to show me something new in this role as Jasmine. Playing a role with so many high’s and low’s is never easy, so to add in a mental illness makes this performance an easy pick come award time. She was amazing and awkward all at the same time, which I credit Woody Allen and his script for. Blanchett sold this film without a lot of help. Sure, I liked the brief roles played by Peter Sarsgaard, Sally Hawkins, Louis C.K. and Andrew Dice Clay. That’s right, Andrew Dice Clay has resurfaced in a film you would never expect him in, but in two brief scenes made his impact known. I was both shocked and intrigued, making me wonder if the Academy has the nerve to put his name in the mix for supporting actor.
The Woody Allen Effect- I’ll be the first one to admit, I am no Woody Allen fan. Out of the 50 some odd films he has been a part of, I have probably liked no more than a handful. Allen is just not my kind of taste, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect what he has done for film and Hollywood. I mean, this guy does everything and rarely gets noticed for it unless he happens to be nominated. And here, he once again wrote and directed the film, a combination found in over 40 of his films. That’s impressive and why any true movie buff should watch this film. Dramas are made by acting, but with the right script, they can be so much more. “Blue Jasmine” is one of those films that doesn’t look like much, but half way in, you’re hooked into the story and don’t know why. That’s Woody Allen for better or worse, once again proving his worth as one of the most accomplished filmmakers Hollywood the past 50 years.
Bottom Line – “Blue Jasmine” is not a film you will rush to the theater to see, but if you do happen to stumble in to see it, you won’t be disappointed. Yeah, it’s not perfect, but it’s still entertaining enough to watch if not for the story, for the tremendous performance put forth by Cate Blanchett.
CLICK HERE to read more from Marcus
CLICK HERE to see what’s playing at your local box office