Film review: Blue Jasmine

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Blue Jasmine

Reviewed by Danielle McGee

Edited by Siobhan Hodge

Film: Blue Jasmine
Director: Woody Allen
Running Time: 98 minutes
Year of Release: 2013
Language: English

I met her on the plane. She couldn’t stop babbling about her life.

The release of a new Woody Allen film is invariably accompanied by high expectations; his latest project (Blue Jasmine) does not disappoint. Cate Blanchett gives the performance of a lifetime as New York socialite ‘Jasmine’ (formerly Jeanette…but she felt that name lacked pizazz!) alongside a stellar supporting cast including Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis C.K, Andrew Dice Clay and Michael Stuhlbarg.

The film opens with Blanchett becoming steadily drunk on what viewers soon recognise as her preferred drink (‘vodka with a twist of lemon’) on an aeroplane bound for San Francisco. The bemused passenger next to her is unable to get a word in, as ‘Jasmine’ pours out her entire life story. At some point, both the audience and the woman realise that this elegant stranger does not even care if anyone is listening however; ‘Jasmine’ is quite content to talk to herself! Alas- the first hint to viewers that they are about to dive into the damaged mind of a woman who is undoubtedly one of Allen’s most complex and entertaining creations to date…

Swept off her feet at university by handsome businessman Hal (Baldwin), ‘Jasmine’ declares that she regrets failing to receive her degree. However, the exorbitant lifestyle she enjoys with him in their Park Avenue abode more than makes up for it. Meanwhile, in blatant contrast, her estranged hipster sister Ginger (Hawkins) feels trapped with her two children, bagging groceries for a living in suburban San Francisco as a single parent. Their worlds disastrously and unexpectedly collide when it is revealed that Hal is a smooth operator, and ‘Jasmine’ suddenly finds her millions gone forever, and her husband in prison. What follows is a comedic and tragic exploration of warped family dynamics, love affairs and nervous breakdowns…everything we have come to expect from a Woody Allen film.

The cinematography of San Francisco is breathtaking, the costumes adorning ‘Jasmine’ exquisite (Blanchett is practically a walking work of art), and the outstanding supporting performances by Hawkins, Cannavale and Clay all combine to make this a truly unique, hilarious and thought provoking film. In particular, watch out for the scene when newly reunited Ginger and ‘Jasmine’ head to a restaurant to meet Ginger’s new boyfriend (Cannavale). The stilted, painfully awkward conversation is an example of satirical comedy dialogue at its best. I would recommend this film for anyone who enjoys stories that walk the fine line between nostalgia/melancholy/psychological disturbance and love/comedy/a touch of the ridiculous (I’m thinking fans of David O. Russel’s recent Silver Linings Playbook (2012), or the works of directors Sofia Coppola and Lone Scherfig…)

Blue Jasmine opens Thursday 12 Sep at Luna Leederville, Luna On SX and Windsor Cinema.