Friday, July 26, 2013

Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine - A Woman at the End of Her Rope

Blue Jasmine – Movie Review

By Anne Brodie Jul 26, 2013, 14:46 GMT
A life crisis causes a woman to head to San Francisco, where she reconnects with her sister.                                                      A life crisis causes a woman to head to San Francisco, where she reconnects with her sister. ...more  
All of Woody Allen’s neurotic rich gals have met their match in Cate Blanchett.  She may be the saddest queen of them all as Jasmine, a finely tuned trophy wife who isn’t coping with the tragedy her life has become.
Blanchet's intense and muscular performance is breathtaking and awards bait.  Woody Allen is back in the saddle with one of his most interesting leads and casts in a long while. It’s a story that lingers a long time.
From stunning wealth via her investor husband’s (Alec Baldwin) business savvy to stony broke, drunk, alone and increasingly insane, Jasmine’s story is a painful tale, one that money did not soften despite her unquestioning reliance on it.  The story comes to us in a dizzying format of flash-forwards and backs, which mirrors Jasmine’s disorganized, obsessive thoughts.  She’s driven to the brink in a few short months.
Turns out her extravagant jewels and clothes, beach house, country home and city manse, plus horses, cars and charitable donations have been funded with other people’s money.  Her husband has not been faithful and those elaborate gifts are to meant to ease his guilty heart.
Jasmine discovers her easy life is a sham and her values are meaningless.  She’s humiliated when a friend sees her working as a shoe shop clerk and her son abandons her, but these are just the introductory circles of hell.
Jasmine arrives on her sister’s (Sally Hawkins) doorstep in San Francisco without a dime but with Louis Vuitton luggage, crying the blues about having no money but flying first class.  And then she attacks her sister for living in a hole, having no money and a “loser” for a boyfriend and launches into the insults and bitchy remarks.  Her sister’s warm, comfy low rent lifestyle makes her gag.  Hawkins has problems but her sunny optimism makes her life a rich one.
Allen nails the script.  Its fast and funny, tinged with heartache, gradually building up to something quite different.  His skill is smart, social observation and he’s a master.
There are superlative performances by Blanchett, Hawkins, Baldwin, Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale and that arresting, quiet, poignant one from Andrew Dice Clay. These actors hit every note perfectly; this is one of the reasons why Blue Jasmine is one of my favorite Allen films in years.
 Allen creates tremendous intimacy in his “places”, the homes, bistros and streets where he plunks his people.  It’s a thumbprint.  Think of the kitchen and dining room in Hannah and Her Sisters, the apartment building in Manhattan Murder Mystery, the window seat in Radio Days, the sumptuous bistro in To Rome with Love.  He has a true understanding and genius for places.  Blue Jasmine’s places reflect our anti-heroine’s emotional state.
Finally, Jasmine’s struggles are epic but also intimate. Those high toned palaces where she lived she will never see again.  And she will never fit into the low rent world of lower middle class San Francisco.   First world problems aside, Blue Jasmine is one of Allen’s most tragic stories.
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35mm comedy drama Written and directed by Woody Allen Opens: July 26 Country: USA Language: English

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