Allen, said to be undergoing a mini-renaissance in his filmmaking career following the huge success of his 2011 hit Midnight in Paris, has seen his latest film rake in extremely positive reviews, with Blanchett almost certain to gain an Oscar nod for her performance.
The film, which is written and directed by Allen, follows troubled Jasmine who has fallen from grace following the high profile arrest and suicide of her husband Al (Alec Baldwin), after he was convicted of insider trading. Jasmine, unemployed and friendless, ends up moving in with her adopted sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins).
Blue Jasmine has the typical feel of a Woody Allen movie, albeit like the majority of his most reason films, carries a more serious edge than his earlier, more humorous picture. Not that Blue Jasmine does not have its comic moments. Bobby Cannavale, who plays Ginger’s on-off boyfriend Chili, supplies a few funny moments with his desperate nature to win back the woman he wants to marry.
The success of the movie, however, lives or dies with the performance of Cate Blanchett. It is a tale of self-denial and delusion. A woman who had it all and is quickly brought down to earth with one almighty bang. Critics have not been short in their praise of Blanchett’s performance. It would be extremely difficult to not recognise the skill of showing with such clarity the different sides of Jasmine that Blanchett did so effectively, swapping with ease between the happy-go-lucky, ignorant rich woman, to the down-and-out drama queen.
Such a powerful, multidimensional performance can become somewhat overbearing, and this is what happened with Blanchett. Her snobbery and over-elaborate nature became more of an annoyance than a pleasure to watch as the film wore on. It also became extremely difficult to relate to, or feel any sympathy, for a character like Jasmine who seemed so out of touch with the real world. Allen’s most successful characters have had such relatable features, most notably Diane Keaton in her fabulous portrayal of Annie in Annie Hall.
Sally Hawkins is excellent as Ginger, the working mum of two and overlooked adopted sister of Jasmine. Her shy, vulnerable nature makes her extremely likable. Alec Baldwin convinces again as the womanising millionaire, Hal. He is able to play the sleazebag role with such ease. The film is just so absorbed in Jasmine that it unfortunately overshadows everything else that is going on.
It is certainly not Allen’s sharpest script, but in Jasmine he has developed an extremely complicated character who will leave you loving or loathing her, and the film, on exiting the theatre.