film review: Blue Jasmine (2013)September 27, 2013 // 5 Comments
I like to think that I enjoy a healthy range of movies, I do, but the truth is that I don’t spend a lot of time watching straight up dramas. Not that I don’t enjoy them, but I would naturally gravitate to “genre” films, your action blockbusters, horrors, sci-fi epics etc. Simply for the reason that, if I’m spending money in the cinema (and I do spend money in the cinema – sadly I don’t get to press screenings as often as I’d like) I want the cinema experience to be meaningful, I don’t want to watch something I’d enjoy just as much on a TV… And since there’s always something new in the cinema, I go there all the time rather than watching films at home.
Which is all to say that, I don’t watch a lot of drama like Blue Jasmine.
So when I come across a film like this, I’m surprised by how much I enjoy it. Blue Jasmine is smart, enthralling and as enjoyable as it is tragic.
Blue Jasmine stars Cate Blanchett as the titular Jasmine. Formerly the wealthy socialite, a change in circumstances finds her penniless, alcoholic and living with her sister in San Francisco until she “gets her life back on track”. Not exactly a ground-breakingly original premise but I’m under the impression that Allen isn’t a director one would consider as covering breaking ground. I presume his lauded career is more of a case of, he does what he does and he does it well.
I can’t speak for where it fits in Woody Allen’s “oeuvre” so to speak but if he’s been off the boil in recent years I think it’s safe to say that, between Blue Jasmine and Oscar winner Midnight in Paris (I’ve heard), he’s on the way back up. This is as accomplished piece of work as you’d expect, from a director who’s averaged almost a film every year since he started doing it in 1966.
I have say, part of me was worried that I’d find my first Woody Allen film in 15 years or so, a little high brow… or something. I’ve been rather left with the impression that Allen films live in a certain world and that you have to understand that world to enjoy it. This certainly isn’t the case with Blue Jasmine. It’s very mainstream stuff. Ok not, mainstream like I’m used to, but it certainly wouldn’t look out of place beside any usual romantic drama or comedy you might come across in the multiplex. What sets it apart is the deft work in unfolding Jasmine’s character, we get to know her through a series of flashbacks and present day interactions which are superbly handled by all.
Central to Blue Jasmine’s success is the strength of Cate Blanchett’s performance. Strident yet delicate, scattershot yet determined, Jasmine is a maelstrom, a character that required finesse from the actress while punching the message home. Blanchett delivers on every level. Her support certainly keeps up as well with Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay and Peter Sarsgaard all doing their part to help create Jasmine. I would be shocked if Blanchett doesn’t get an Oscar nomination for this and, depending on the competition, there’s a good chance for Hawkins too.
In the end your enjoyment of Blue Jasmine will really hinge on how sympathetic you can feel toward a poor little rich girl. Most reviews I’ve seen complaining about Blue Jasmine seem to focus on the fact that Jasmine may not be the most believable character. To me this isn’t a concern. In my view you can have the most outlandish, unlikeable central character in the world, as long as the film can sell you on why you should be watching… and in Blue Jasmine, Allen and Blanchett have me buying.
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