Written by Guillermo Troncoso.
Woody Allen just won’t stop will he? No complaints here. The man has been releasing a film almost every year since he “re-mixed” the Japanese action film International Secret Police: Key of Keys for his debut What’s Up, Tiger Lily? Mostly working within his own creative parameters, Allen’s substantial resume doesn’t always stand high. Often incorporating his own character into his films, Allen has often been classified as a truly egocentric filmmaker. That being said, his masterpieces far outweigh his forgotten entries. Fortunately, his latest effort is a wonderful film that should please Allen’s fans and newcomers alike.
Without demoting Allen’s talents, this film’s strengths mostly lie with its lead actress, Cate Blanchett. She plays Jasmine, a New York socialite who we meet on a plane towards her sister’s (Sally Hawkins) place. She arrives broke, suffering from anxiety after her cheating husband (Alec Baldwin) was arrested for financial fraud. In the first few moments of her company it becomes quite clear that she is one troubled woman. Neurotic, nervous, emotionally unstable and always teetering on the edge of a breakdown, Jasmine isn’t exactly a character you can see yourself being comfortable with. Nevertheless, Blanchett’s sublime performance helps us surpass our initial dislike to attempt to understand her.
Allen has always been adept at creating memorable and well-rounded female characters. Diane Keaton in Annie Hall, Gena Rowlands in Another Woman, Judy Davis in Husbands and Wives, and now Cate Blanchett can be added to the lucky actresses to grace our screens in beautifully written female roles.
Told with recurring flashbacks, Jasmine’s story unfolds at a great pace. Calmly feeding us her past incidents to help us see why she has arrived at this junction in her life. She has arrived at her sister’s house, completely throwing into array the lives of everyone she becomes close to. It doesn’t help that she and her ex-husband were accused of stealing her sister’s money. How could she not have known her husband’s dealings? Jasmine isn’t painted in a villainous light, nor is she easily forgivable; she is a woman who is guilty of blindly enjoying her upper-class status while ignorantly dismissing both her sister and her husband’s illegal and physical affairs.
Jasmine’s attempt to find a new man brings her to Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard). But will her emotional state and her troubling past prevent her from being able to climb back to that elite status that she so craves for?
Blue Jasmine’s cast performs admirably. Sally Hawkins is absolutely fantastic as Jasmine’s understanding sister. Hopefully she’ll be up for a supporting actress gong come next year’s Academy Awards. The male characters are also well written and brought to life by a great group of actors. Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis C.K. and Bobby Cannavale are all very good in small, but important, roles.
Blue Jasmine is quite a dark film. Jasmine’s emotional instability is a major focus. Many a moment is spent with her as she attempts to defend herself from the self-brought accusations of others. It’s all quite heavy, but Allen manages to bring plenty of laughs to this ultimately depressing story. The dark-humour is downright funny at times, with Allen’s signature dialogue snapping up memorable one-liners and knowing quips at every turn. Occasionally, the two tones feel at odds with one another. Leaving you unsure as to whether you should laugh or cry.
As the film progresses, the plot’s direction becomes quite predictable. This isn’t always a problem, but the path travelled almost becomes a little frustrating towards the film’s final act, as you implore the film to show you what you’ve already foreseen.
Minor qualms aside, Blue Jasmine is a great film that manages to be emotional and hilarious at the same time. Woody Allen continues to impress with his writing abilities and Cate Blanchett gives us one of her best performances to date. The two are a great match.
THE REEL SCORE: 8/10