Thursday, August 22, 2013

2013 Summer Review - Blue Jasmine

Downtown San Francisco and Marin Bay have a contrast similar to what is reflected throughout Woody Allen's brilliant film Blue Jasmine: the events of our lives go back and forth between manic and tranquil, and some of us sadly end up where we started; for out.of.control women like Jasmine, his Blanche DuBois, it's tragic, but, hey, as Allen concludes, that's life.

We charter our own course; we can change if we really want to work at it. Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), unfortunately, reverts to a world of pills and delusion rather than moving forward, despite the fact that she speaks to the contrary. She is a selfish, self-centered bitch, and I hated the woman without feeling a drop of compassion for her, but Blanchett's portrayal is nothing short of astounding. Sally Hawkins - could be Julie Kavner's kid sister, she looks so much like her - as Jasmine's put.upon half-sister Ginger, on the other hand, wins our sympathy. Jasmine's snobbish outlook governs her relationships with others, and she is afraid to look at herself in the mirror; Ginger is vulnerable and weak, makes the wrong choices, but she's totally aware of it: she is who she is. Hawkins gives a wonderfully understated performance, and I predict, as in many Woody Allen movies, that she will walk away with the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Add to the cast Alec Baldwin, who could play philandering con artist husband Hal in his sleep and two wonderful supporting performances by Andrew Dice Clay as Augie and Bobby Cannavale as Chili, two of Ginger's low-class boyfriends, unafraid to tell it like it is and  who act out their feelings for all to see. Peter Sarsgaard offers a refreshing, gentle look at a man that any woman would be a fool not to want; if only Jasmine knew how to behave, she might win his confidence! With other fine support from Max Casella, Michael Stuhlbarg and Alden Ehrenreich, the ensemble is right on target under Allen's impeccable direction. Not enough of the incomparable Tammy Blanchard in a scene or two as one of the friends; she is one terrif actress who deserves a film all to herself.

I may have hated Blanchett's character Jasmine, but, boy oh boy, her performance and that of everyone else, particularly Sally Hawkins, are tops! A must see!