“THE EDGE, there is no honest way to explain it
because the only people who really know where it is
are the ones who have gone over.” Hunter S. Thompson
Written & Directed by Woody Allen
It had been two years since the release of “Midnight In Paris” in 2011. “To Rome With Love” followed in 2012, a year later. We all know after a year passes a new Woody Allen film appears on the horizon. Without any hesitation, I realized a new film was on its way. That was in 2013. The new Woody Allen film was “Blue Jasmine” with an outstanding cast.
The title character is played by Oscar-winning actor Cate Blanchett. In the role of her sister, Ginger, is Sally Hawkins (from the British Series “Fingersmith” and “Tipping the Velvet”), and the man in the tailored cloths seems to have broken her heart and everything else. Hal is played by Alec Baldwin, quite familiar to a Woody Allen cast.
It is a serious film, likened to a Greek Tragedy, but with a touch of the Comedic, a usual touch in Woody’s films. Also, Woody Allen leaves Europe and the cities of Paris, London, Barcelona and Rome. He decided to return to the U.S. and film in a city he has never used as a backdrop before. “Blue Jasmine.” uses San Francisco, but I don’t feel its presence takes over the screenplay or the great and spontaneously natural performances of the very fine and familiar cast.
Woody’s new film has as his central character the complicated and confused Jasmine. Ms. Blanchett takes the role and is able to lose her identity inside of it. It is her story that drives the film. She is a woman, once financially sound, now suffering from an extreme financial downfall. To survive, she decides to travel across country from NYC to move in with her sister in San Francisco.
What we witness is a strained relationship between two sisters on the extreme ends of opposite worlds colliding. Jasmine is on her way down the psychological path to losing it, in a mentally creative sense. Her world appears to have shattered. Her change of living situations is rather devastating for her. Her sister lives in a different world from the place where Jasmine lost everything.
Woody Allen has surrounded himself with a quality cast with such great talents as Alec Baldwin, Jasmine’s lover (who I am assuming has broken her heart and her spirit), Bobby Cannavale, a boy friend of the sister, Peter Sarsgaard, a potential suitor for Jasmine, Louis C.K., and Andrew Dice Clay, her sister’s ex-husband. Several of the characters are out to protect Hawkins’ character from Blanchett’s, who they strongly believe is out to use her.
“Blue Jasmine” did not receive the same treatment most Woody Allen films get. Woody didn’t take “Blue Jasmine” to Cannes, despite its summer release date and Woody’s usual presence. The trailer was the only visible presence of “Blue Jasmine” that Sony Pictures Classics released. That was on June 7, 2013. It is such a brilliant film. It is odd to not represent it in all the usual places.
Never mind that. Woody Allen has demonstrated his excellence in telling stories about siblings, a great example and my favorite is “Hannah & Her Sisters.” In “Blue Jasmine,” he mixes it up between Jasmine and Ginger. Ginger trying to be polite and to let the past rest, even though what occurred affected everyone badly.
The second time I watched “Blue Jasmine” my partner pointed out a comparison between Cate Blanchett’s character to that of a prominent character from a popular Tennessee Williams play, also, adapted into a well-known film. Watch the film “Blue Jasmine” and see if you can see the Williams’ play interwoven into it. Not going to do any spoilers. Let yourself feel the “Aha” moment. I will give one line as a clue. Jasmine is Her. It all fits together neatly. At the end of this film review I will reveal the character, cast & title of the film & who Jasmine is. Don’t look if you want to see the film first.
Here is Her famous line from the Tennessee William’s play & film.
“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
Woody Allen stated he has the utmost respect for Ms. Blanchett
and feels that she is one of the finest actors in the world.
Woody Allen has created many indelible female characters portrayed by some of the world’s greatest actresses, including Diane Keaton, Geraldine Page, Mariel Hemingway, Charlotte Rampling, Mia Farrow, Barbara Hershey, Gena Rowlands, Dianne Wiest, Mira Sorvino, Judy Davis, Samantha Morton, Scarlett Johansson, and Penelope Cruz, to mention only a few. Whether they appear in light comedies, dark dramas or anything in between, these complex female characters resonate in our memories as the focal points of his movies.
Certain to take her place in this gallery of multifaceted, complex, and richly observed women is Jasmine, the troubled heroine of BLUE JASMINE is portrayed by one of the world’s most extraordinary actresses, Cate Blanchett.
To give a brief scorecard, I will mention that “Blue Jasmine” jumps about in time. Hold on tight. We first meet New York socialite Jasmine shortly after she has suffered a breakdown, triggered by the cataclysmic collapse of her marriage to wealthy financier Hal (Alec Baldwin).
Up until that point Jasmine’s entire identity was wrapped up in being an elegant, well dressed, culturally sophisticated woman living amongst Manhattan’s High Society. But now that life is over, and her mental and emotional state is rapidly deteriorating.
“We know from the minute the movie opens that Jasmine is lost,” says Allen. “She’s already someone who has been found talking to herself and has had real problems.”
Hitting rock bottom both financially and psychologically, and having nowhere else to go, Jasmine turns to her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins), a grocery store cashier in San Francisco. “Jasmine has really been through the mill,” says Allen.
“In a fit of anger she did something that caused dire consequences she never anticipated, and she brought on herself an extremely potent series of traumas.” Quote of Cate Blanchett. “Jasmine is in freefall and has to leave behind everything she knows and has expected. She’s entering the realm of absolute unknown, moving from one coast to the other, from one social set to the other, one class to another.”
The buzz for Best Actress was loudest this year. People were raving about Cate Blanchett in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.” I mean, they are loving her and saying the movie is on a par with Woody’s classics like “Match Point” and “Crimes and Misdemeanors.” I would add to this list “Midnight In Paris” as one of my favorite Woody Allen films and it has the most unusual & beautiful storyline. There are so many classics to list. Someday I will do a Woody Allen retrospective of his film career to the present time.
Cate won the Best Actress Oscar for her portrayal of Jasmine in “Blue Jasmine.”
Just a number of days prior to the Oscar Ceremony, I predicted in an earlier post that Cate Blanchett would win. I was ecstatic and satisfied. I saw Ms. Blanchett’s reaction when she won. She was over the rainbow and expressed herself quite well.
Now for a touch of “Blue Jasmine” in the first trailer released of Woody Allen’s Oscar Winning film starring Cate Blanchett in the Oscar Winning Lead Role as Jasmine.
It is 5 stars***** and a two thumbs up film for me.
Woody Allen is paying homage to Tennessee Williams’ brilliant character of Blanche DuBois from his play, later adapted into a film with Marlon Brando, Kim Stanley & Blanche DuBois played by Vivien Leigh. The title is: “A Streetcar Named Desire.” A potential film to be reviewed here in the near future.
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