Blue Jasmine Blu-ray Review

Blue Jasmine

At its heart, Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine is a riches to rags story, a trajectory which the director himself can surely relate to, at least artistically.

Allen was the darling of the film world from the sixties until the early nineties or thereabouts. Of late, his films have been more lacklustre affairs, the guy’s once-admired prolificacy now mercilessly panned.

And recent revelations about his home life haven’t exactly had a positive effect on matters.

But let’s hope that such press doesn’t influence any Award-season decisions over the excellent performances in his most recent release, where Allen still proves his talent as a writer and director.

Cate Blanchett plays Jasmine, a New York socialite who has fallen from grace; a fall which, as we learn from the outset, has made her a wee bit dotty in the head.

We learn through flashbacks, that Jasmine is widowed from wealthy fraudster Hal (Alex Baldwin), is estranged from her own son and, to make matters worse, is completely skint.

She reluctantly moves in with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco and attempts a new start. However, as one of the characters warns her, “some people, they don’t put things behind them so easily.”

As a character, Jasmine is snobby, highly strung and harbours an unhealthy penchant for Stoli martinis, while her suggested complicity in Hal’s dealings doesn’t exactly endear her to a credit crunch audience.

So, not your typical heroine then.

Blue Jasmine

But whether you empathise with Jasmine or not, one thing is undeniable: it’s hard to take your eyes away from Blanchett’s terrific performance.

Patched together with delusions and booze, she wobbles from scene to scene, all upper class accent and Chanel wardrobe, realistically conveying the likelihood that she could crumble to pieces at any moment.

Hawkins, too, is excellent as Jasmine’s younger sister, both previously betrayed and currently browbeaten by her sibling. She remains easily influenced by Jasmine, misguidedly seeking to better her social status through her love life.

The rest of the cast, as you’d expect from an Allen movie, are top notch. Baldwin, in particular, has one of his best roles in years as the philandering Hal. Memorable scenes include one where Jasmine practically helps him to compose one of the lies he is spinning to cover his infidelity.

Flavour of the month Louis CK makes the most of his small role as one of the men in Ginger’s life. As does Bobby Cannavale as Chili, all testosterone on the outside and mushiness on the inside.

As Jasmine’s admirers, Boardwalk Empires’ Michael Stuhlbarg plays the creepiest of all dentists, whilst Peter Sarsgaard channels a young Frasier Crane as successful diplomat Dwight.

In short, all the Allen naysayers can, for this movie at least, park up any concerns of quantity over quality in his career.

Hopefully the Academy will overlook the controversy in the director’s personal life and toss this film the couple of Oscars it deserves.

Who knows, it could happen.

Just ask Roman Polanski.

Conor Brennan

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February 2014
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