The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about Woody Allen’s latest “Blue Jasmine” in about the time it takes to watch the trailer.
Woody Allen will turn 78 in December and has directed a movie every year for the past 7 years except for this year… cause he’s directed two. So much for slowing down.
“Blue Jasmine” stars Cate Blanchett as a former socialite trying to adjust to the real world after her husband’s financial crash has left her living with her adopted sister. We follow how her descent down the class ladder corresponds with her descent into possible madness. It’s directed by the ever prolific Woody Allen and co stars Alec Baldwin as the husband.
So it’s another year, and another hit and miss Woody Allen film that other people seem to like more than I do. Now that’s not to say there isn’t anything good about Blue Jasmine, in fact I kinda liked it. It’s certainly better than last year’s “To Rome with Love”, and it has that distinctly pragmatic humanness that Allen seems to do so well. In fact, one of the things I like about the way he tells stories is how he really lets the relationships breathe inside the story’s framework. It can make the pace feel a bit slow at times but seems to be a decent trade off for allowing the characters to evolve naturally in the story. Of course this puts the onus on the actors to pull it off and thankfully for Mr. Allen he has Cate Blanchett carrying the baton for most of this film. Her performance is the best thing about “Blue Jasmine”, somehow making you feel both contempt and pity for this woman. It’s equal parts conniving and cluelessness that could have easily felt like a caricature in the hands of a lesser actress. Here it drives the story in a way that you are always interested in what havoc she will wreak next on those around her or herself.
The problem with this is that the story never gives us anything positive to hold onto. Even with Blanchett dominating her role there’s a bleakness and spite that shadows the entire affair and leaves a pretty bad taste when all is said in done. That darkness is probably the worst thing about the movie, trapping the story in it’s own depressing spiral. I think there are some valiant attempts at humor to lighten things up, but overall none of these characters seem to have anything to root for or teach us. And not to give away the ending, but lets just say you won’t walk out of the movie thinking about rainbows and lollipops. Now, I certainly don’t need every movie I see to put on a plastic smile, but the world I live in has both rain and sunshine so I’d like to at least see both at some point in the proceedings.
Overall, Blue Jasmine is a dark, interesting movie held together by a simple story told well, and a featured performance by Cate Blanchett that is as fascinating as it is depressing. Despite the dreariness of the finished product I’ll still say it’s a B-
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