Review: Blue Jasmine

Poster for 2013 dramedy Blue Jasmine

Genre: Dramedy 
Certificate: 12
UK Release Date: 27th September 2013
Runtime: 98 minutes
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen 
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Andrew Dice Clay, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis CK 
Synopsis: A New York socialite falls from grace and is forced to live with her sister as she tries to rediscover work and love.

 

 

 

Blue Jasmine is not “a return to form for Woody Allen”. That was Midnight In Paris in 2011. Blue Jasmine, on the other hand, is a hugely accomplished dramedy that pays nuanced homage to Tennessee Williams and, to call one early, is going to have the Academy knocking on Cate Blanchett’s door.

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) is a New York socialite forced to move in with her low-flying sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) after the loss of her husband Hal (Alec Baldwin). She struggles to create a new life for herself at first, but things look up when she finds a potential love in the shape of aspiring politician Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard).

In contrast to his “early funny ones”, the later work of Woody Allen sacrifices humour for emotional heft. Blue Jasmine is an intriguing, layered character study that delves deep within its characters’ psyches to extract the humanity within.

Allen has claimed that Blue Jasmine is not based on classic Tennessee Williams play A Streetcar Named Desire. However, the footprints of Williams can be seen throughout the movie, from its basic premise right through to its intense, adversarial characters. In many ways, Blue Jasmine feels like a uniquely Woodyesque remake – more of an affectionate tribute than a money-grabbing rip-off.

Cate Blanchett’s title character is a woman of intense complexity. Beneath her snooty facade lurks a fear of loneliness and a helpless lack of direction. Beneath her visage of composed arrogance lurks an intense self doubt. Beneath her measured, constructed personality is a lost little girl unsure of what she should do without the guiding light in her life.

It’s a masterful performance that must land a statuette on Blanchett’s mantlepiece. But, despite bearing her name, Blue Jasmine isn’t all about her. Sally Hawkins puts in a fine turn as Jasmine’s sister and controversy-courting comedian Andrew Dice Clay is well cast as her Kowalski-esque ex-husband.

Despite Allen’s earlier work and the presence of Clay and fellow comic Louis CK, Blue Jasmine is fairly light on comedy. This is slightly to the film’s detriment, but the drama is strong enough to carry through regardless.

He has taken a step far away from his “early funny ones” and is producing thoughtful drama in the twilight of his career. That’s not to say that there isn’t levity to be found, but it certainly plays second fiddle to Allen’s intense central character study.

Plaudits for Blue Jasmine will fall almost entirely at the deserving feet of Cate Blanchett. However, the film is more than just a stunning performance and is, in fact, a real treat across the board.

9/10

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