Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Blue Jasmine

Starring: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Louis CK
Director: Woody Allen
Running Time: 1 hour, 38 minutes
Rating: PG-13

Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” is yet another one of his masterpieces that focuses on a fallen woman, set in one of the world’s most eclectic cities: San Fran. Cate Blanchett should look for an Oscar nod as Janette, who changed her name to Jasmine in an attempt to make a better life for herself. Cate nails this neurotic, depraved character. And she looks like a J. Crew model in every scene. As her money-scheming ex-husband Hal, Alec Baldwin gives you little to like, though Jasmine isn't much better. The film bounces between present day and flashbacks, as we see Jasmine trying to get back on her own two feet, and what made her fall in the first place.

In the first 60 seconds, we can tell that Jasmine is uptight, uber-wealthy, and a bit wacko. She moves in with her sister Ginger, played by the adorable Sally Hawkins (where has this woman been all my life?) As the antithesis of Jasmine, we really care about Ginger and her strained yet sweet relationship with Chili (Bobby Cannavale, aka “funky-tasting spunk” guy Samantha "dated" on “Sex and the City.”) The tension between Jasmine and Chili is apparent from the start, and we kind of encourage him to continue pushing her buttons.

Photo Courtesy Sony Pictures Classic; Cate Blanchett Fan Blog
I'm not sure if Allen or Blanchett deserves more credit for this, but we somehow pull for Jasmine to succeed, even considering how unlikable she is. Jasmine is like a ticking time bomb, full of Ketel One and Xanax. I became anxious just watching her. When it’s finally revealed what made her crack, you can’t help but wonder if she was always a little unstable. It was engrossing to see the meltdown build up in the flashbacks.

I would have liked a few extra scenes with Louis CK, who has a brief flirtation with Ginger, but I’m glad he didn’t stick around too long; at the end of the film, you just want to hug Chili and Ginger. These two, though not wealthy or necessarily hygienic, they seem to have this love thing figured out. This is one of Allen’s darker stories, and the few bits of comedic relief don’t shine too brightly. Blanchett’s performance makes it worth watching, though it may leave you feeling “blue.”

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