Check out this flick at the Arts Centre Gold Coast!
Genre: Drama / Comedy
Cast: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale and Peter Sarsgaard.
Written and Director: Woody Alllen
Official Website: visit official website
A life crisis causes a woman to head to San Francisco, where she reconnects with her sister.
Here it is: the real deal, an actual Woody Allen film, the kind we once looked forward to, took for granted, then despaired of ever seeing again. After all those false dawns, non-comebacks and semi-successful Eurojeux d’esprit, Allen has produced an outstanding movie, immensely satisfying and absorbing, and set squarely on American turf: that is, partly in San Francisco and partly in New York. It is now getting selected previews before a full UK release next week.
Cate Blanchett carries off a magnificently watchable lead performance as Jasmine, the self-deluding socialite fallen on hard times – and there are superbly judged supporting roles for (among others) Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, Peter Sarsgaard and Bobby Cannavale. The mix is just right: a bittersweet cocktail exactly measured. It is delivered with such ease and storytelling skill in the disposition of scenes and management of tone, and the elements of melodrama and soap are carefully controlled to give the right champagne fizz. Without ever playing anything overtly for laughs, Allen gets a tingle of exquisitely sad comedy to run right through his picture from first to last.
Blue Jasmine is a late triumph, if not a late masterpiece, and in Blanchett Woody Allen has found a female lead to rival Mia Farrow in Broadway Danny Rose. She gives an electrical charge to this minor-key drama. It has depth and pathos and a resurgent, late-flowering maturity, if that isn’t a redundant thing to say about a film-maker who’s been working hard to please us for almost 50 years.
Jasmine is blue: that is, she is profoundly depressed. Or it could be a nickname, applying to the tune Jasmine heard playing when she first met her immensely rich husband-to-be: Blue Moon. Once, Jasmine was a Park Avenue princess married to Hal, a devilishly handsome Manhattan financier and all-around Bernie Madoff figure, terrifically played by Alec Baldwin. Successive flashbacks will give us some insights into her lost gilded existence and Hal’s attitude to probity and monogamy.
Because clearly something terrible has happened both to Jasmine’s marriage and to her wealth. Penniless and alone, she has come to San Francisco to live with her divorced sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), in a cramped apartment. Haughtily arrogant and believing always in what she imagines to be her breezy patrician charm, Jasmine presumes to give Ginger aspirational advice on her love life, to the fury of Ginger’s steady boyfriend, Chili (Cannavale), while Jasmine herself becomes romantically entangled with a dentist, Dr Flicker (Stuhlbarg) and aspiring congressman Dwight (Sarsgaard). She is addicted to booze and prescription drugs, and has a habit of talking to herself, which she can creepily modify into a heedless monologuing and haranguing at anyone unlucky enough to be in earshot. She is a tragic sociopath, and her desolation is only really apparent in the film’s final moments. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine Jasmine, in an earlier era, being played by a star that Blanchett has portrayed: Katharine Hepburn.
The point is that Jasmine was never born to wealth. She and Ginger were adopted, and Jasmine found that the genetic accident of beauty, added to a flair for clothes, style and flattering men gave her a window of opportunity through marriage. She reinvented herself once; surely she can do it again? Allen and Blanchett show the fanaticism and desperation in her trying to perpetuate the momentum of riches and status, to carrying on running once over the cliff edge. Always, always, she repeats mantras about “moving on” and “putting the past behind her”. But annulling the past means going into denial about what exactly she knew about Hal’s business dealings and precisely how guilty she is about various things. The ambiguity is cleverly maintained.
There are some traditional Allen moments: characters being or wanting to be an “interior decorator”; characters saying to friends, “What’s the matter? Your mind’s a million miles away!”; characters bumping into each other on the street. Stuhlbarg’s bespectacled dentist is arguably the quasi-Woody character in the cast, and his calamitous sexual lunge is very like one Woody tried in that other San Francisco-set movie Play It Again, Sam – though here resolved with a bitter, downbeat seriousness.
Blue Jasmine is an elegant, witty and sophisticated tale that reaches back into the American literary traditions of Edith Wharton and F Scott Fitzgerald, but also Allen’s own magnificent tradition of compassionate human comedy. It is pure movie-going pleasure.
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