Woody Allen has been a bit hit and miss of late. Remember You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger? Neither do I (it was probably pretty shit though). For every Midnight in Paris that warms your heart and renews your faith in Owen Wilson, there’s a To Rome With Love, a well-cast trainwreck of pseudo-intellectualism and weird plot twists. But don’t worry about any of that business, because Blue Jasmine will probably rock your socks off.
Cate Blanchett stars as Jasmine, a self-involved wealthy housewife whose life of luncheon-planning and gala-attending is uprooted when her husband Hal (Jack Donaghy – I mean, Alec Baldwin) is found guilty of fraud and money laundering and is imprisoned, where he promptly kills himself. The film picks up after all of this, with Jasmine packing up shop in New York and moving to San Francisco to start a new life with the help of her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins).
It’s a pretty bleak premise that surprisingly bounces along – Blanchett brings an element of humour to Jasmine, wearing her self-righteousness with pride despite her less-than-admirable situation and surroundings. Jasmine has got to be one of the more inherently interesting characters I’ve seen on screen to date, and this is largely attributed to Blanchett’s incredible performance. The most interesting aspect to her is her waning sanity – she is prone to fits of anxiety that leave her speaking to herself at varying degrees of intensity. On the surface, it’s a little funny – she comes out with some pretty random things, and the reactions of those around her are priceless – but when the veil is lifted, you can recognise the tragedy that is at the core of this seemingly lively and eccentric film.
The film is not without it’s tension – there were a few dramatic moments that left me with my fists tightly bound, usually when Jasmine is having a go at Ginger’s hot-headed boyfriend (played by Bobby Cannavale). All performances are just searing and passionate and practically vibrating with emotion. Outstanding.
Yet another interesting thing about Blue Jasmine that potentially stops it from petering out is its tendency to skip back and forward between Jasmine’s lives, and often without warning. The character study is so deep and structured that sometimes it’s hard to remember you’re watching a film. Also did I mention that LOUIS C.K is in this film? He plays the role of Louis C.K like he does in everything else but it is so great.
Blue Jasmine is a truly fascinating watch, and gives me hope that Woody’s getting himself back on track to creating excellent cinema.