Following his less than successful From Rome with Love, Woody Allen presents his latest film full of interestingly dramatic characters.
After falling from the upper tiers of society, “Jasmine” (Cate Blanchett) trades the east coast for the west, moving in with her estranged, and polar opposite, sister (Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco. Determined to make it back to the top where she belongs, Jasmine does all she knows how to get there while battling delusions, depression, and just a bit of psychosis.
Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale, Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay, and Peter Sarsgaard also appear.
This is, without a doubt, what we call a character driven film. There is very little plot, and only enough story to give everything a purpose. What plot is present is also told in a non-linear fashion, mixing flashbacks throughout. With nary a “x amount of time ago” or Lost-esque swoosh sound, the narrative structure might be confusing at first, but it quickly falls into line as you realize what’s going on.
The biggest crime a character drama like this can commit is handing the reigns over to characters that are either completely unlikable or completely uninteresting. Thankfully, none of the colorful inhabitants of this film fall into either category. These are complex and interesting people into whose lives we’re given a peek. Exploring themes of depression, denial, entitlement, and the currently trending topic of wealth/excess, along with a splash of love, Blue Jasmine is not a happy film, but neither is it depressing. Painted with a dark humor, it is more fascinating than anything else.
Despite their flaws – some more than others – we are compelled to care about these characters. Jasmine, especially, is incredibly self absorbed and delusional in more ways than one. Blanchett, however, manages to portray her in such a way that you can’t help but root for her – at least some of the time.
There aren’t the fantastical elements that made Allen’s recent hit Midnight in Paris so different, but in some ways it is still a fairy tale with Blanchett playing both the evil queen and the heroic princess. It’s not quite different enough for me to stand out as one of my absolute favorites, but it is a strong addition to the genre and features a truly stellar performance by its leading lady. You will undoubtedly be hearing more about this one come awards season.
Mrs. Hamster says:
“I enjoyed it and all the characters are very interesting.”
My Rating: Three out of Five Hats
Blue Jasmine is currently in limited release, expanding to 48 theaters August 2