Blue Jasmine (2013)
Written & directed by Woody Allen
“Blue Jasmine” is not writer/director Woody Allen’s funniest film, nor is it his most original or poetic. But for a man who has written a feature film every year since 1982, you can’t always expect his newest one to be his greatest. “Blue Jasmine” gets right down to the complicated nature of the human relationship as only Allen can. While the actors don’t talk like they’re reading Whitmanpoetry from the cue cards (as it sounded in “Midnight in Paris,” and all the better for it), the script is just as insightful and profound as Allen’s best.
For Jasmine (Cate Blanchett, in an Oscar-nominated role), ignorance was bliss. The wealth of her ex-husband (Alec Baldwin) blinded her, and when they lost it all she didn’t know how to live. She took to Xanax and martinis to try to suppress her anxiety, and eventually knew she would have to live with her half-sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins, in an Oscar-nominated role), in San Francisco until she got back on her feet. If only it was that easy.
More than most actresses today, the timeless Cate Blanchett transforms into her characters. In “Blue Jasmine,” the Oscar-winning actress absorbs into the role of the troubled trophy wife. From where I’m standing, she’s the front-runner for her second Oscar (but first for Best Actress) in a relatively weak year for the category. Sally Hawkins is delightfully normal as Ginger, Jasmine’s adopted sister. In her brief relationship with Louis C.K. (great in a minor role, perfect for a Woody Allen script), these two show us how refreshing it is to see normal characters dialoguing on-screen about normal things like the quality of a new iPod speaker system. As charming as Sally Hawkins was, I don’t see her beating out either Jennifer Lawrence or Lupita Nyong’o for Best Supporting Actress. And, as much as I’d love to see Woody Allen winning another Oscar he would never be present to receive, I can’t see the screenplay for “Blue Jasmine” beating out competitors like “American Hustle.”
Good films make us rethink the opinions that we take for granted. Great films make us change our stubborn minds. “Blue Jasmine” is somewhere in between. Is Jasmine an anti-hero? What’s most important: love, happiness, or money? Can you have all three? “Blue Jasmine” makes you ponder these universal inquiries. Woody Allen has been better, but that says more about Woody Allen than “Blue Jasmine.”