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‘Blue Jasmine’ – film review

Screenshot from Blue Jasmine starring Cate Blanchett

Cate Blanchett’s performance in Blue Jasmine is superb. Photo: Sony Classics

After ventures in both Rome and Paris, Woody Allen returns to America for his latest film, Blue Jasmine. Set primarily in San Francisco, with intermittent flashbacks set in New York, Allen is back in familiar territory.

The film, a homage to Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire, centres on Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), a New York socialite in a state of distress, as her husband (Alec Baldwin) is arrested as part of a financial scandal. It also seems he may have been unfaithful. Jasmine soon after suffers a mental breakdown and seeks refuge with her less affluent sister in San Francisco.

The film is host to the witty dialogue and comically flawed characters with which Allen is synonymous. He masterfully draws selfish and ignorant characters together as they each wrestle with maintaining sufficient self-delusion despite the other trying frantically to impose their life on someone, anyone else. Everyone is lost. Everyone is self-centred.

Ginger, for instance, seems oblivious to her sister’s frenzied ranting. Jasmine is obviously unhinged, but all that seems to be on Ginger’s mind is whether her plans will be disrupted.

The acting throughout is superb. Allen has a cast of mature, talented actors who perform brilliantly; there’s none of the usual fawning over a young leading lady which in the past has made some of his work uncomfortable.

Alec Baldwin fills the role of sleazy, philandering, millionaire husband perfectly; perhaps the performance was a little too comfortable, entertaining nonetheless. Sally Hawkins is cute as the, likeable, upbeat, slightly dim Ginger.

The best performance though came from Cate Blanchett. She is sublime as Jasmine, and has already been mentioned as the frontrunner leading up to Oscar season, and rightly so.

The film is worth watching for Blanchett’s performance alone. She pulls us into the tragedy of Jasmine, through each feeling as she bounds from one emotion to another, while we know ultimately she’s doomed, that such a manic trajectory isn’t sustainable, we want her to succeed, to appease herself.

Photo: /1/”>Sony Classics

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