BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
AUGUST 20, 2013
Dark, quippy, and cathartic, “Blue Jasmine” is the epitome of a Woody Allen film. Forced to give up her lavish lifestyle with her mover-and-shaker husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin), Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) moves in with her lower-middle-class sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins). There she teeters on the edge of her sanity, descending into alcoholism. “Blue Jasmine” is impressively intricate, written in the form of flashbacks, which tie to the present by the plot point that Jasmine is reliving these moments when triggered while standing on the street talking to herself. There is deep, dark humor in the dialogue and editing choices, with hilarious reaction shots and the raving and ranting expected from a Woody Allen script. There’s also plenty of allusions to “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Cate Blanchett is the star of the film, genuinely making the role her own. She exudes beauty and radiance in her flashback scenes. Simultaneously, she delivers the perfect sullen, bag lady renditions in the sequences from the present, and utterly impresses with every turn of phrase, begging the question of whether she’ll get an Oscar nod for this performance. With strong performances, Sally Hawkins and Peter Sarsgaard impress with their memorable supporting roles. Louis C.K. and Andrew Dice Clay prove, above anyone else, that they belong in Woody Allen’s world, offering some of the most subtle, humorous performances of the entire bunch. Instantly becoming one of my favorite Woody Allen ventures, it reminds of his previous successes, especially that of “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” With humor and heart all its own, “Blue Jasmine” will be hard to top.
August 23, 2013
Sony Pictures Classics
(for mature thematic material, language and sexual content)
Andrew Dice Clay