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Blue Jasmine

October 12, 2013

Blue Jasmine (2013)
Director: Woody Allen
Actors: Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale


Synopsis: Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), a penniless Park Avenue socialite trying to rebuild her life after the suicide of her disgraced financier husband, moves in with her humble sister in a scruffy district of San Francisco.

Review: It’s nice to see Woody Allen operating on more fertile ground again, fashioning something infinitely more substantial than the inane skits and diversions that formed the entirety of To Rome with Love. That said, I think Allen misses a trick or two here. There are the raw materials for a piercing modern American tragedy, detailing the corrosive social and financial hubris of a certain type of moneyed Manhattan class, but a far more studied, serious and icier eye is needed. Allen seems content merely to envision his story as broad, theatrical melodrama with his players little more than plot cogs or social stereotypes. I personally feel Jasmine would have been much more interesting if she wasn’t quite so ‘tragicomically’ neurotic – self-deceiving, by all means – but more of a stunned and frozen princess, going through a more haunting, insidious breakdown. But then Allen has always been a director compelled to flaunt any theatrical muscle he can flex from his narratives, and this is a film conceited in its subtexts and indulgent in its performances. And talking about performances, boy is there some acting going on here with a capital ‘A’. The scene where Sally Hawkins and her first husband, played by Andrew Dice Clay, arrive at Alec Baldwin and Cate Blanchett’s Uptown apartment is excruciating in its demonstrativeness of characterisation and theme, and Blanchett’s performance – though on some level rightly praised, as it is undoubtedly a physical tour de force and certainly screams of Jasmine’s multiple flaws – isn’t exactly complex, subtle or ‘real’. (October 2013)

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