Blue Jasmine: A Beautiful, Stunning Tragedy
Writer/director Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris, To Rome with Love) can never be accused of holding back. With Blue Jasmine, his latest foray as the Lord of Awkwardness, he goes above and beyond to paint a stunning, mortifying portrait of a woman lost to self-ruin, and audiences will not soon recover.
Premise: The life of a New York socialite after a disaster that leaves her deeply troubled and in denial. Result: The brilliant, mesmerizing tale of a woman whose life spirals out of control.
Blue Jasmine begins with talkative Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) personifying Woody Allen in a conversation that is really nothing more than a constant, idiosyncratic monologue. She talks on incessantly and this will instantly bring a smile to observers’ faces, especially those familiar with Allen’s works and the quirks of his own.
But this is not a funny movie. Well, not really anyway. Observers will laugh nervously from beginning to end, chuckle at the traumatic, embarrassing events that populate every frame of this directorial master class. But the film isn’t funny. It’s agonizingly tragic in deeply insightful ways.
Ultimately this is the story of a woman in emotional despair, in psychological catastrophe that must look to the future, uncertain and terrifying. Her link to reality is tenuous as her story unfolds in a series of flashbacks that will chill observers. All eyes must always be on Jasmine as there are so many nuances, so many schizophrenic moments, acute angles, strange sights that to watch her is to engage in an anthropological excursion.
She is regal, elegant, beautiful and all this as she smolders in the ashes of her own horrifying ruin. She finds herself in San Francisco in the wake of personal disaster that has dropped her in her sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) apartment. She is traumatized by her surroundings, observing the very apartment as if it were unbearable squalor and her sister as if even in Jasmine’s most desperate hour, she is mountains above her.
Allen allows her story to reveal itself slowly, deliberately: her relationship to her husband Hal (Alec Baldwin), her former rivalry with Ginger’s ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), her current rivalry with Ginger’s current boyfriend Chilli (Bobby Cannavale) and the complex relationship she has with her stepson Danny (Alden Ehrenreich).
At every moment, Allen douses us with humiliation after grueling humiliation, where this woman has not only come to devastation, but continues to unravel before our very eyes. There is nothing sacred, no moment where her mascara has not run, where her choices are not horrifying, where she is not only deserving of our contempt but deserving of our deepest pity.
Other than an interesting story, Allen provides audiences with a relevant allegory here – that the wealthy, the entitled cannot live in our world and when their greed turns to ruin, they continue to feast on us like parasites, desperate for anything to place them in the warmth of the sun, even if they must stand on our cold, dead bodies. These characters are deeply complex and audiences will be mesmerized by the twists and turns until that final, chilling resolution.
The entire cast of this film is perfect, embodying their characters. Blanchett’s performance is inspired, almost transcendent. She delivers every line with devastating realism, and she manages expression and movements that tell multiple stories in a single moment: she is walking calamity and audiences will loathe and pity her character while adoring her for it.
Hawkins is also stunningly suited for her role, somehow managing to survive on screen even as Blanchett delivers one of the best performances of her career. Hawkins, playing a completely different character, somehow is as deep and fascinating as anything we could hope for.
Dice Clay is impressive as Augie, harnessing both his signature raw power as well as a sadness and vulnerability that makes his role really stand out. Cannavale is wonderful yet again delivering on a character that is as remarkable as he is unstable. Baldwin, for his part, is wonderful but his role is largely marginal when compared to these others.
In the end, Blue Jasmine is a stunning triumph. The film is has a remarkably nuanced story with deep characters and magnificent performances. It is a must see for Allen fans and neophytes alike.
Rating: 9 - An expensive red wine and juicy steak that someone else is paying for and where you don’t have to put out
This entry was posted on September 17, 2013 at 11:58 am and is filed under 9, Comedy, Drama, New Releases, Ratings, Reviews with tags Alden Ehrenreich, Alec Baldwin, Andrew Dice Clay, Blue Jasmine, Bobby Cannavale, Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Woody Allen. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.