For putting out a new movie each year, you have to admire Woody Allen. (Especially these past few years where he’s made some great to pretty good films.) Not many filmmakers can do what he does, or at least have the opportunity to do what he does. But when you see the movies he makes, especially his latest Blue Jasmine, you’ll know precisely why Woody Allen is an invaluable Hollywood treasure.
Cate Blanchett stars as Jasmine, a woman in the middle of a major life crisis. A former New York City socialite who lost all her money and status after her husband (Alec Baldwin) was convicted of a Ponzi scheme ( la Bernie Madoff)and is now trying to get her life back together, Jasmine decides to move in with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), who lives in San Francisco. Jumping from coast to coast, Jasmine’s past and present are weaved together into a moving and fascinating character study and narrative.
Cate Blanchett is absolutely mesmerizing as Jasmine. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen someone this committed and fully in sync with a character, especially one who pops Xanax and downs it with vodka to deal with life. Allen’s script and direction are some of his best work, but it’s clear that he lets Blanchett have her way with the character. It’s amazing how she goes from poised and elegant to pathetic and crazed to everything in between.
The flashbacks into Jasmine’s past rich life are jarring at first; the editing cuts right from the present to the past and vice versa suddenly as a memory pops into her mind. I liked how it reflects the precarious state of Jasmine’s mind. She’s unstable; no matter how put together she tries or seems to be.
The supporting cast is just as notable. Hawkins’ Ginger perfectly juxtaposes Blanchett’s Jasmine and definitely holds her own opposite a tour de force performance. Bobby Cannavale, an always underrated talent, turns in a comic and tough guy performance as Ginger’s boyfriend, Chili. Alec Baldwin was unsurprisingly seamless as Jasmine’s swindling and cheating husband. Peter Sarsgaard, Andrew Dice Clay, Alden Ehrenreich and Louis C.K. all have small but memorable roles.
Blue Jasmine could’ve been more comedic, but Blanchett’s heavy performance really gave this story a new life on its own. There’s no way that you won’t leave this movie—whether you liked it or not—a little in awe. In addition to Allen’s fine script and direction and an amazing supporting cast, Blue Jasmine is undoubtedly one of this year’s best films—I would even rank it among Allen’s all-time best.
Blue Jasmine is now playing in select theaters.