Blue Jasmine (2013)
Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Sally Hawkins
Plot: A New York socialite, deeply troubled and in denial, arrives in San Francisco to impose upon her sister. She looks a million, but isn't bringing money, peace, or love...
Genre: Comedy / Drama
Awards: Won 1 Oscar - Best Leading Actress. Nom. for 2 Oscars - Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay.
Rating: PG13 for mature thematic material, language and sexual content.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
“Anxiety, nightmares and a nervous breakdown, there's only so many traumas a person can withstand until they take to the streets and start screaming.”
After winning his fourth Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for the critical hit Midnight in Paris (2011), which I found slightly overrated, Woody Allen is back with one of his best post-2000s works. Blue Jasmine, as it is titled, is quintessentially Allen though it is remarkably refreshing.
It is also a significantly more mature work from a writer-director whose brand of neurotic humour and quick witticisms remains to be one of American cinema’s great gifts to moviegoers sophisticated enough to appreciate the idiosyncratic quality of his art produced year in, year out by the bespectacled genius.
The incredibly prolific Allen casts Cate Blanchett in the title role as Jasmine, a socialite from New York who temporarily moves to San Francisco to be with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins). Jasmine has deep financial troubles. She is in denial of her predicament as she attempts to seek comfort far away from where she used to socialize.
She enters Ginger’s modest life (and lifestyle), and doesn’t bring peace in the process, as troubles of the psychological kind begin to eat away at Jasmine’s conscience. In sum, Blanchett plays a nervous wreck, and she does a brilliant job at it.
Blanchett is clearly at the top of her game here, and with Allen’s fine screenplay that works in a non-linear fashion, Blue Jasmine is an intriguing dramatic character study that might just snatch a couple of Oscar nominations – and yes, can we have an acting nomination for Blanchett please? Hawkins does a commendable job supporting Blanchett, and essentially I feel that Blue Jasmine features some of the strongest acting work in an Allen picture in years.
While alternating between past and present fluidly, the film occasionally surprises with revelations that change the course of the present narrative, and shed light on past events that eventually culminate in the present.
Watch Blue Jasmine for Blanchett’s riveting performance, and if you have been following Woody Allen closely, you would be delighted to know that this is a polished work that is built upon strong, dramatic material, rather than the traditional comic nature of Allen’s prose.
It is also honest, emotional and insightful towards the human condition – of a lost soul in a lost world who tries to find her feet even as she continues to slip away. In some way, I feel this is Allen’s answer to Linklater’s Before Midnight (2013). And in an ideal world, both filmmakers should battle it out for Best Original Screenplay.
Verdict: A refreshing mature work by Woody Allen that sees Cate Blanchett delivering an Oscar-worthy lead performance.
GRADE: A- (8.5/10 or 4 stars)
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