Cate Blanchett’s best: ‘Blue Jasmine’
(2013 – Director: Woody Allen Cast: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins)
Woody Allen, the hardest working man in Hollywood, has churned out a gem from his “make-a-movie-every-year-factory.” Allen, of course, has long solidified his sense of storytelling and with it, a rigid fan base loyal to his career. It’s films like Blue Jasmine that remind everyone why he’s among film’s elite.
Blue Jasmine stands out because, opposed to a lot of what Allen does, the film finely balances drama and comedy. Jasmine is obviously a tragic character; one that we as an audience should be disgusted with. But I found myself rooting for her. Her intentions and will to get back on her feet are both admirable and honorable.
The story harkens back to A Streetcar Named Desire, but the story is about class warfare as much as anything. How do we view and treat people of a different status? Are we bitter? Envious? Disgusted? Ashamed? Jasmine is stripped from her lavish lifestyle and is reluctantly thrust into her sister’s middle class San Francisco apartment where she has to learn to make it on her own. Her scum bucket husband duped her for so many years that she gradually develops mental complications. In many ways Jasmine is America. Her husband is Wall Street. We watch her try to break the mold of being dependent, of being ignorant, and taking action for herself. I watched this movie constantly asking “What’s it going to take for Jasmine to break?” Just when you think she’s turning it around and making things better, another layer of her past comes up. I love how we never see her break until the very end and has nothing but solitude to look forward to. It’s bleak, sure, but we all knew someone with her personality could never really function in society. Not “real” society anyway. It was time for her to stop turning her cheek to her problems and to stop parading this façade of someone she wasn’t.
Cate Blanchett is absolutely marvelous in this film. In every scene we get a greater sense of her brokenness as the story periodically cuts to flashbacks of her and her husband in New York. Her performance is reason enough to watch this film. She’s obviously the Oscar frontrunner thus far and has my vote as of now. She’s one of a few actresses that are lucky enough to have chosen nothing but memorable roles in quality films. But her performance in Blue Jasmine tops them all.
And one last shoutout to the supporting cast. Every single actor did a great job in this film. Yes, this movie belongs to Blanchett, but without the balance to her manic personality, her character never could survive this story. Also, can Allen just make a movie starring Louie C.K. already?
Go see this movie. It’s the best one I’ve seen all year and will live as one of Allen’s most memorable.