Blue Jasmine Movie Review
With a riveting performance, Cate Blanchett creates one of Woody Allen's most memorable movie characters in years. And it's also the writer-director's strongest film in recent memory, as it balances comedy and drama in an engaging story that has a kick of resonance as it explores fall-out from the current economical recession.
Blanchett is Jasmine, a New York socialite who has fallen from grace after her husband Hal (Baldwin) lost control of his dodgy financial empire. So Jasmine is forced to move across the country to live with her sister Ginger (Hawkins) in San Francisco. Although she misses her high-society lifestyle, Jasmine gets on with things, finding a job with a local dentist (Stuhlbarg) and a flicker of romance with a rising-star politician (Sarsgaard). But living in Ginger's small apartment with her two kids and her blue-collar boyfriend Chili (Cannavale) takes its toll. And while smoothing the edges with alcohol and Xanax, Jasmine begins to lie to herself and others about her past.
All of the characters here are jaggedly complex, interacting with hilariously observant dialog as their relationships get increasingly messy. But while Jasmine is snobby and prickly, Blanchett also reveals her fragility as she tries to get back on her feet. And Hawkins is just as revelatory as the tenacious and much more generous Ginger. The men around them are just as complicated: Cannavale is hot-tempered but charming, Sarsgaard is kind but a bit slippery, Baldwin is charismatic and over-confident. No one fits into a simple box, which keeps us on our toes and lets the characters worm their way deep under the skin.
This is the same layered, knotty approach that marks Allen's best films (from Annie Hall to Crimes and Misdemeanours). It's both hilarious and moving, as well as a lacerating look at American culture, specifically the dream that anyone can become one of the wealthiest 1 percent if they leave their honest, working-class ethic behind. But where the film moves us is in its realistic exploration of how difficult it can be to find someone we can trust. And how tricky it is to put our mistakes behind us and move on.