Blue Jasmine

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Movie Review by EDF

Stars: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard
Director: Woody Allen

Woody Allen is one of those film-makers you either love or hate. You either get his movies or you don’t. The one thing that can be certain is that he writes great dialogue and his on screen characters’ behaviour can seem realistic. This is a long way removed from his wild and wacky early movies, so you could say he has found his natural voice by writing about how people deal with others, whether it is love or just plain dysfunctional families.  With BLUE JASMINE you get both and also something that is just a little bit special.

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) relocates from New York to San Francisco in an attempt to start a new life, moving in with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins). Through various flashbacks to her New York life, we find that Jasmine was living the high life, married to wealthy businessman Hal (Alec Baldwin). Of course, moving in with Ginger who has two boys that love playing loudly indoors, along with the occasional visit from Ginger’s greaser boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale), is enough to stress out Jasmine. So where did things go wrong for her? Jasmine mainly lived a stress free life when she lived in New York, except for the time when Ginger came for a rare visit with her then first husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), which itself is a turning point in both of the sister’s lives.

Trying her best to drag Ginger up to her standards, Jasmine makes it her task to convince Ginger that she can do better than being with a loser like Chili. When the opportunity arises for Jasmine to go to a party and possibly meet a man, her neurosis kicks in and she convinces Ginger to accompany her. Will both sisters ever find the right man to be happy with, without the other messing things up?

This is probably one of Woody Allen’s more accessible movies. Even though, at times, the one-liners can fly past you at a furious pace, there is a lot that feels familiar in the explored themes of human relationship, without it feeling dull. While the two female leads are the heart and soul of this movie, they are ying and yang. While Ginger is the proverbial human heart and soul, Jasmine represents the plastic or fake side of this condition. Being the consummate socialite, Jasmine uses the riches and luxury to surround her as a shield to protect her from any of life’s tough decisions. She is ignorant of any tough decisions that might involve her to think a situation through and willingly, without any due care or second thought, sign any piece of paper that is placed in front of her. Due to this, anything that she cannot handle, which would be the kind of things the rest of us would deal with without a second thought, will set both her nerves off and her mouth running. Within the first five minutes of the movie, you are as stressed as she is. It has to be seen to be experienced. This is only just a hint of the performance Cate Blanchett gives for the rest of the movie, as Jasmine attempts to make a life for herself in San Francisco by finding a new job, a new boyfriend and trying to make Ginger’s life better. Not being used to how real life operates, it is cringing when she makes wrong turns in her life to the point of nearly slapping your own forehead in disbelief. But Blanchett pulls it off with a performance which is (dare I say it) award worthy. Hawkins performance is equally as good but more grounded than the frantic Blanchett, which at times you need a welcome break from. This is one movie that will stay with you long after you have seen it. One of the year’s best and finest.

6 out of 6 stars