Woody Allen has made more movies than any director I can think of, and of course with such a large filmography there are going to be varying degrees of success. He’s known for some of his old classic like Annie Hall and Manhattan, but he has had some recent success with the likes of ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’ and ‘Midnight In Paris.’ With Blue Jasmine, he teams up with Cate Blanchett to try and continue his recent success.
Cate Blanchett is Jasmine, a formerly wealthy New York socialite whose husband (Alec Baldwin) has proven to be a cheating crook who lost everything they had. Forced to move out of New York and back in with her lower class sister Ginger, Jasmine struggles with the concept of getting a job, finding men and establishing a new life for herself away from the luxuries she’s used to.
Woody Allen’s films have always done an incredible job in capturing everyday people and everyday life, in a way that makes their problems human and very relatable, yet entertaining in a cartoonish sort of way. With Blue Jasmine, Allen had a smaller cast than he has with other recent films like ‘Midnight in Paris,’ and he decided to place the fate of his film basically all in the hands of Cate Blanchett.
Fortunately for Allen, Blanchett did not disappoint, and delivered an incredible, powerhouse performance as Jasmine. A socialite who clearly has insecurities, as well as a lack of real life skills, Jasmine is created beautifully by Blanchett, who makes her character utterly hate worthy at times, while adding enough complexity to make us still feel for her and even root for her in moments.
The rest of the cast work admirably as well, particularly Sally Hawkins as Jasmine’s sister, and Alec Baldwin as her crooked husband. Despite being very simple it plot on the surface, and having little actually happening in the present, Allen keeps things engaging with a series of flashbacks that help make us understand the current situation.
While the acting is fantastic, Allen has also created a film where at times it is difficult to actually like a single character on the screen. Even the ones you think you like will disappoint you, and the one’s you hate will tease you into thinking they’ve changed before going right back to being idiots. This makes for interesting drama, but at times it becomes difficult to get attached to the film. There is just so much depression and little to cheer about, to the point where you don’t know if you’re enjoying the film. Maybe that was the intention…
The film does keep things light in the early stages though, which made the humor feel a bit front heavy, with little to laugh about in the second half. However, the humor in the first half is very well done, and really quite charming. Two sources of humor are Gingers ex and current lovers, who actually end up providing some of the film’s strongest meaning and messages, hidden behind their bright exteriors.
Overall, the film was a slow and steady journey, which was at times difficult to behold, but not necessarily in a bad way. For many, watching a snobbish socialite like Jasmine have her life fall apart will be a great source of enjoyment, but for me it wasn’t. However, the screenplay was wonderful and meaningful, and Blanchett’s brilliant performance is definitely Oscar worthy. If you’re a Woody Allen fan, or a fan of fantastic individual performances then this is well worth your time. One of Woody’s best.