Wednesday, 11 September 2013
FILM REVIEW: BLUE JASMINE
Jasmine is feeling blue. Actually, she's a wreck. The New York high society wife (brought fully, and at times painfully to life by Cate Blanchett) has had her ivory tower and social status repossessed following her husband's imprisonment for illegal Wall Street wheelings and dealings, forcing her to flee west to San Francisco and the far more "homey" home of her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins).
Woody Allen's latest comedy (perhaps "dramedy" is more exact; it's not all laughs and even those there are skew dark) sees the veteran auteur return Stateside from another brief European sojourn (which produced the wonderful Midnight In Paris (2010) and the hit-and-miss To Rome With Love (2011)) to tell this tale of one woman's social and psychological undoing.
Blue Jasmine is as much about the global financial crisis as it is a reworking of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, and Blanchett's Jasmine (re: Blanche) is very much the centre of attention. A pill-popping, vodka-swilling ball of nerves, Jasmine clings desperately to the veneer of her New York sophistication even as she talks to herself, often in public, and lashes out at anyone who attempts to help or confront her.
It's a terrific character (whatever his faults, Woody gives good woman) and an equally terrific performance by Blanchett. The actress gets under Jasmine's Stoli-soaked skin, fully inhabiting this tragic yet abrasive heroine so much so that's is as painful to watch as it is enjoyable to behold. Even Brando's Stanley Kowalski would have been powerless in her presence (although Bobby Cannavale and Andrew Dice Clay, as Ginger's boyfriend and ex-husband, respectively, dare to brave the storm head-on.).
Indeed, if there's a complaint to be made against the film -- and, sacrilege, Blanchett -- it's that no other character registers as strongly. Hawkins' put upon sister (both were adopted from different families, hence the lack of familial resemblance) makes the most of her screen time but Alec Baldwin, as the wrongdoing husband, and Michael Stuhlbarg and Peter Sarsgaard, the strangers whose kindness Jasmine may or may not rely upon, are given little to work with.
Blue Jasmine is all about Cate Blanchett; playing a 1 per cent-er fallen on hard times, she gives it 110 per cent.