Blue Jasmine review by Alyse Garner - Cinema Paradiso
Having never been a particular fan of Woody Allen I have always accepted that for many his neurotic and rather sideways comedy has a certain appeal; in recent years however I felt Allen has been undergoing a definable change in his personal psyche, his movies have, in my mind, become more and more hit and miss, with his attempts to rekindle his previous comedic atmosphere falling far short whilst his personal indulgences and movies made simply for the love of art have utterly sparkled with ingenuity and beauty. When asked to sit down and watch Blue Jasmine I admit I was quite apprehensive, unsure as to whether I would be greeted with another poor excuse to imitate his early success or something a little more haunting and genuine.
Luckily for me I found myself presented with the latter; albeit a far grittier and greyer movie than the shining effervescence that was Midnight in Paris – there is still something tangible and real about Blue Jasmine that I have always felt Allen’s signature neurosis lacked.
Jasmine, played excellently by Cate Blanchett, is a well to do high society wife who lives in New York with her businessman husband Hal (Alec Baldwin), yet as the film opens it is already clear that there is something going on behind the scenes in the life of Jasmine, who for some as of yet unknown reason has moved in with her adoptive sister the blue collar and emotionally generous Ginger (perfectly brought to life by the wonderful Sally Hawkins). It is slowly revealed that Jasmine’s life of luxury, swanky parties and fancy jewellery has been funded by illicit and immoral business transactions on her husbands part and now that he is out of the picture Jasmine herself has been forced into making a living for the first time.
A rather typical riches to rags story one would expect there to be a wealthy and wonderful man waiting to bring Jasmine back to riches again and though the narrative offers up Peter Sarsgaard’s Dwight this is not a typical Hollywood romance and as ever Allen shows that life is never really that easy.
The fantastic performances that Allen always seems to bring out of his actors, whether they themselves are well traversed in the art of acting or veritable on-screen newbies, is once again what brings the real magic to the narrative. Blanchett, living with her nose upturned is constantly affronted and disapproving of her sister, her rather inept boyfriend and noisy, manic children, yet her life of control is constantly undermined with a clever and rather satirical sarcasm that is both sharp as a whip and incredibly funny.
Yet Blue Jasmine is unlike any other Allen movie I have seen, the comedy here is entirely implicit and the over arching tone of the piece is a very low, gritty and painful one. There is little sympathy and nothing to warm the heart, yet the film ends with a genuine sense of competition, things are, by and large, as they should be, the characters have been served their just desserts and though most of them remain marginally unhappy the viewer is left with a feeling of satisfaction as to the nature of the world.