I don’t think Woody Allen will ever stop making movies—the man’s almost 78 and he’s rumored to be shooting another one as we speak—but, despite a few lackluster outings, that doesn’t appear to be a bad thing.
Allen’s latest project as writer and director “Blue Jasmine” plays off two tremendous actresses, Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins, as adopted sisters reunited after an array of family troubles, amidst a tremendous supporting cast so deep that I’ll leave some out for time and others out for fear of spoiling all the fun.
Greatest actress on earth Cate Blanchett gets the title role as Jasmine, and to put it mildly: She has issues. Through an incredibly coherent nonlinear tale, we learn of Jasmine’s life during and after her marriage to Hal (Alec Baldwin being great as such a bad man).
Hal’s got deals going on all over the globe, some more above bar than others, yet he never forgets to stop and spoil his wife Jasmine rotten. When the feds finally catch up with him, he and his wife and their entire life of luxury disappears.
Now with nothing, Jasmine journeys from New York to San Fran to crash with her sister Ginger (Hawkins) to try and salvage some form of sanity and a new existence.
What we continue to learn from segments Allen places of Hal and Jasmine from during their marriage into present day San Fran, however, is that Jasmine wasn’t just happier and healthier with everything she ever wanted—who wouldn’t be—but she was in deep, deep love with the whole façade.
This lust for any and every thing at her finger tips keeps her on an even keel. Anything other than hosting dinner parties, buying clothes and traveling seems to make her unravel. Plus, this lime light proves to be a bad addiction once she no longer has it.
Blanchett’s performance carries “Blue Jasmine” because we never truly understand from where she’s coming. Going from everything to nothing sounds like an easy concept to wrap your head around, but who can really comprehend such devastation?
“There’s only so many traumas a person can withstand until they take to the streets and start screaming” Jasmine states, but like so many things she says aloud, we cannot tell if she’s telling us or simply talking to herself.
Ginger enters as a calming force, yet she has a life of her own, too, with her own troubles. She’s divorced, with two kids from that marriage, and a current boyfriend with whom she’d like to live yet she’s hosting a sister of hers amidst a storm of epic psychological proportions.
And both the men in Ginger’s life have problems with Jasmine—rightfully so.
Her current boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale) isn’t good enough for her, according to Jasmine, a fact that wouldn’t go over well in any introduction, but it’s Ginger’s ex-husband Augie that’s got a real beef with Jasmine. For when he and Ginger were together they won the lottery for $200 grand (“more money than I’ve ever seen” Aguie says), and then Hal proceeded to lose it all once he got his hands on it.
Augie’s played by the dirtiest comic of all time Andrew Dice Clay to perfection. Dice Clay owns every scene he’s in—a colossal task indeed when paired with Blanchett—yet, as the voice of reason in this film, the Diceman is just being like he was in his legendary stand-up act: Honest.
“Blue Jasmine” works wonders because of Allen’s directing, pacing and writing, but his latest feature film goes beyond what any filmmaker could do for the simple reason that it’s efficiently cast.