Blue Jasmine Review

Posted 10 years ago by myetvmedia

Woody Allen’s latest film is a drama about Jasmine, a woman trying to reassemble her life in the midst of a psychological collapse. This modern incarnation of A Streetcar Named Desire stars the incredible Cate Blanchett as Jasmine (think Blanche DuBois), a New York socialite who is forced to move in with her sister when all of her worldly possessions are stripped from her by the federal government. Also starring Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins and Peter Sarsgaard, Blue Jasmine is a refreshing improvement on Allen’s recent work.

Image courtesy of Sony Picture Classics

Jasmine takes mental fragility to a whole new level, in keeping with Woody Allen’s compulsion to feature neurosis front and center. Poised on the precipice of nervous collapse throughout the film, she self-medicates with vodka and Xanax in between spells of talking to herself.

The film opens on a plane, with Jasmine in first class, recounting her life story to the woman next to her. She is on her way to San Fransisco to stay with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) and make a fresh start. Jasmine has recently become a widow of Bernie Madof–style embezzlement. We learn that her financier husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) committed suicide after being arrested for a presumably white collar crime. Jasmine tumbled from a life of yachting and charity balls to complete destitution. Jasmine finds herself forced to seek refuge and residence with her estranged sister. The transition from Manhattan penthouse to a shared one bedroom walk-up in a working class neighbourhood is evidently quite the pill to swallow for Jasmine. Equipped with an arsenal of Xanax and vodka she embarks on a new job and schooling. When Jasmine meets a promising politician, Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), it appears her life is back on track. There is only one small issue: Jasmine’s idea of a fresh start involves creating a fictitious personal history which she tries to convince Dwight is the truth. The strategy has disastrous consequences.

Image courtesy of Sony Picture Classics

Cate Blanchett’s performance is unparallelled. Her exposition of the variety and complexity of the emotional roller-coaster that Jasmine experiences is exceptional. Despite Jasmine’s many unpleasant character traits, Blanchett’s portrayal of her is sympathetic; one can not help but feel for her, even if her problems are all of her own making. I would recommend this film based on the strength of Blanchett’s performance alone, however this is also Woody Allen’s strongest film in many years.

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