August 24, 2017


3° C, Fog

Full Forecast


Advertise With Us

A woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown

Cate Blanchett intoxicating in Woody Allen's latest

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/8/2013 (1469 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

In his writing process, Woody Allen is given to writing down concepts and ideas on a piece of paper. If an idea sticks, he may explore it in the form of a movie script.

One guesses the concept behind his new film Blue Jasmine read something like:

From left, Cate Blanchett, Max Casella, Bobby Cannavale and Sally Hawkins.

From left, Cate Blanchett, Max Casella, Bobby Cannavale and Sally Hawkins.

Mrs. Bernie Madoff as Blanche DuBois.

From that bizarre notion, a compelling drama arises. It helps immeasurably that Allen cast dramatic powerhouse Cate Blanchett in that potentially dangerous hybrid role. Since Blanchett has played faded southern belle Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire onstage, she presumably knows how to avoid camping up the character. (For the full campy Blanche, please see Allen himself in the role in a scene from his 1973 comedy Sleeper opposite Diane Keaton's Stanley Kowalski.)

Jasmine is a New York socialite brought low when her charming, Madoff-like husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) is arrested for financial fraud on a massive scale. Destitute, abandoned by her circle of friends, and given to popping Xanax like Tic-Tacs, she flies to San Francisco to live with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins), a woman who already has her hands full as a single mom with two kids.

Ginger's boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale) is suspicious. While residing in New York's upper crust, Jasmine either ignored her sister or treated her with a certain sneering repugnance. A flashback wherein Ginger and her then-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) visit the Fifth Avenue abode of Hal and Jasmine proves Chili correct.

But Jasmine digs in and finds a job as a secretary for a dentist (Michael Stuhlbarg) smitten by her classy demeanour. Eventually Ginger grows susceptible to Jasmine's assertion that she can do better than settle for the passionate blue-collar lunk Chili and she tumbles into an affair with a sound engineer (Louis C.K.).

Jasmine herself strikes dating gold when she entrances a widowed ambassador (Peter Sarsgaard) looking for a woman of elegance and social graces to stay by his side when he makes a run for political office.

Taken on the whole, Allen's film presents a piquant contrast between Jasmine's realm of power and privilege -- characterized by dishonesty, greed and adultery -- and Ginger's working-class realm, characterized by care, honesty and rough-hewn love.

If you don't find yourself struck over the head by Allen's political proselytizing, it may have something to do with the particularly strong cast he has assembled here. Allen's dialogue can be clunky and overly formal in the wrong hands, but old pros like Baldwin can make it seem supple. Cannavale and Clay (of all people) prove downright adept at making the words ring true.

But this is ultimately Blanchett's movie and she dazzlingly bears the load of a character so steeped in a world of deception, she risks having no one left to lie to but herself.

Read more by Randall King.


Advertise With Us

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.

Photo Store

Scroll down to load more