Blue Jasmine

August 4, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Posted in 2013 | Leave a comment
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◊ ◊ ◊ ½

Woody Allen’s new movie manages to be both a revelation and a disappointment at times. The tireless Cate Blanchett (who will be appearing in a dozen movies over the next year) demonstrates her brilliance as an actress in a way I have not seen since her vignette in “Coffee and Cigarettes.”  She shines as the unbalanced, haughty and painfully fragile Jasmine.  It’s a thrill to watch her capture disdain and self-loathing, defiance and desperation in the same look.  Jasmine is a rich and complex roll that so many less accomplished actors could have made a mess off.  When this movie soars, it does so on Blanchett’s wings.  However, little else in the film can sustain her energy. The remaining cast, all of them strong actors, are fine but don’t particularly shine and some veer dangerously close to caricature.  Though sometimes funny, this script is not nearly as much so a previous Allen works.  But, I think I was most disappointed with the film’s portrayal of San Francisco.  Allen is famous for making New York come alive and has done a brilliant job recently capturing the energy of other cities, think “Midnight in Paris,” “To Rome with Love” or “Vicky Christina Barcelona.”  Yet, somehow, his San Francisco feels like a small section of Brooklyn.  With the exception of a few touristy shots of the water, none of the city’s personality is present and all of her denizens speak with thick New York accents.  Northern California has it’s own, unique people, rife for making fun of, I assure you.  Why cast Andrew Dice Clay, the terrific Bobby Cannavale (“The Station Agent,” “Romance and Cigarettes”), the amazing Sally Hawkins (“Happy-Go-Lucky,” “Jane Eyre”) and the various actors playing their friends to play Brooklyn and Long Island stereotypes?  I found this odd choice so discordant that it constantly pulled me out of the movie.  But, let’s set all of those complaints aside for the moment and return to Ms Blanchett, sitting on a bench in the final scene of the film.  Everything we have seen in the last 90 minutes is there on her face; it’s a perfect ending.

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