'Blue Jasmine' doesn't leave you blue
Published: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 24, 2013 00:09
Cate Blanchett delivers a dark, Oscar-worthy performance in what is otherwise an average dramatic film effort.
Longtime film director Woody Allen’s latest film “Blue Jasmine” doesn’t quite reach the heights of his 2011 effort, “Midnight in Paris,” but thanks to a remarkable performance Blanchett, it is a more than worthy use of time.
“Blue Jasmine” chronicles the story of Jasmine Francis (Blanchett), a once-wealthy New York socialite, as she attempts to build a new life for herself in San Francisco. Moving in with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), Jasmine attempts to enter the professional world and re-enter the dating scene. However, ever since the collapse of her former life in New York, she has been prone to panic attacks and remains somewhat off.
In flashbacks, we witness scenes of her former life and subsequent collapse as a socialite still married to her former husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin).
The film’s most entertaining moments are drawn from witnessing Blanchett’s remarkable performance as Jasmine, witnessing the character draw herself deeper and deeper into her own psychosis. Seeing Jasmine go from a fairly normal person to an alcoholic prone to talking to herself is truly haunting. A particular scene in which she rambles on about her past to her unaware nephews in a pizza parlor perfectly illustrates the level of mental instability the character exhibits. However, gentlemen be warned, if you are the type that dreads nothing more than hearing a woman complain about her problems, this is most definitely a film you would be advised to avoid.
Not too much can be complained about on the acting front. Compared to Jasmine, for the most part all other characters play “straight roles,” simply serving their places in Jasmine’s tangled web of a life.
Comedian Louis C.K. has a minor role as a love interest for Ginger. Although brief, his appearances provide the film with some much needed comic relief.
Alec Baldwin’s safe performance as a shrewd businessman is an absolute cakewalk for the actor that just finished up seven seasons of portraying Jack Donaghy on NBC’s “30 Rock.”
Bobby Cannavale, who plays Ginger’s boyfriend, and Sally Hawkins do an amicable job of portraying a love/hate working class couple.
Much of my criticism can be pointed directly to Allen.
The film may only be one hour and 38 minutes long, but it moves at a painstakingly slow pace. It feels as though the entire amount of story the film takes up could have been told in half the time it took Allen. The amount of exposure for all of the characters is far greater than necessary. And it would not have hurt one bit to have added a bit more comic relief.
That said Allen has created a truly mesmerizing character in Jasmine, who is fantastically portrayed by Blanchett. A smooth jazz soundtrack perfectly complements an otherwise rather depressing drama. It’s not a revolutionary piece of film, but it will keep you relatively entertained for an hour and a half.