August 11, 2013

Movie Review: Blue Jasmine ***1/2

If I didn't know Blue Jasmine was a Woody Allen movie I don't think I'd know it was a Woody Allen movie. Blue Jasmine is unlike many of his other films. It doesn't have the humor (I prefer his subtle humor), which I missed. It doesn't have the obligatory Woody Allen-type-nebish character, which I didn't miss so much. Curiously, it's filmed in San Francisco instead of New York, and doesn't matter to the story.
It's an interesting tale of a woman spiraling into madness. Cate Blanchett is mesmerizing as Jasmine, a woman who was once wealthy and privileged, but is now penniless due to her husband's financial scandal and subsequent suicide. Now she finds herself dependent on her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) and on the kindness of strangers (Peter Sarsgaard as the new man). Ginger lives a working class life with her blue collar boyfriend (Bobby Cannivale, one of my favorites), of whom Jasmine disapproves. In fact she disapproves of her sister's entire life, and here she is in the middle of it.
Think A Streetcar Named Desire. Blue Jasmine definitely pays homage to that work.
Jasmine talks to herself. She lies. She's ungrateful. She wears a beautiful Chanel jacket over and over and over. She'll do anything to get her old life back. It's fascinating to watch her descent.
But something's missing. I didn't care all that much in the end.
The performances are all wonderful. As an odd bit of casting Andrew Dice Clay is surprisingly good as Ginger's former husband.
There is, in fact, much to recommend about Blue Jasmine but all in all it's not my favorite Woody Allen film. I liked it. Didn't love it.
Three and a half stars for Blue Jasmine.

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