I'll be straight up here: I'm no Woody Allen expert. I've seen When Harry Met Sally, most of Annie Hall, and that might actually be it. So, if you are a die-hard Allen aficionado and are looking to find out just how well Blue Jasmine stacks up against the rest of the Allen canon, you're in the wrong place.
But my unfamiliarity also lets me judge this film in more of a vacuum, which could be a good thing. So, from a novice's perspective, I thought Blue Jasmine was very good. It's being portrayed as a "moving" drama"”I found it more to be a kind of absurdist, funny drama.
Blue Jasmine is a tale of two sisters. Cate Blanchett plays Jasmine, who is shocked to the core to discover her rich husband Hal's (Alec Baldwin) infidelity. The revelation leads her to some rash decisions that have unforeseen consequences. When her glamorous Manhattan lifestyle crumbles, she has to move in with her estranged sister Ginger (played by Sally Hawkins). The two clash over differing approaches to love and life.
The story seems to have a deeper meaning, but that went mostly over my lowbrow head. The surface level theme is of the willing denial of truth, but that's just the main ingredient in a witches brew of class commentary, sibling reconciliation, and the definition of masculinity and femininity and how the two must relate. You get the distinct impression that this movie is saying something, but whatever that is, it's not obvious. Which is fine. But really, really, the reason you should see this movie is for the acting.
Cate Blanchett's performance may actually surpass the talent she displayed as Galadriel in Lord of the Rings; she plays an austere woman on the brink of a nervous breakdown, and she plays it to the hilt. Words cannot describe"”suffice it to say that she has set the bar for every other actress in the world.
She will win an Oscar for this role.
The rest of the cast can stand on their own. Alec Baldwin is ever himself. Peter Sarsgaard (watch for his CMR exclusive interview!) is a profoundly, wonderfully odd actor and kills it as creepy diplomat/boyfriend Dwight. Louis C.K. reprises his arc from Parks and Rec to play another blue-collar boyfriend"”a role he plays well.
Special mention goes to Sally Hawkins for being an ENGLISH ACTRESS who pulls off a particular American dialect that few Yank actors could do convincingly.
But the real show stealer after Cate Blanchett has to be Daniel Jenks. He plays one of Ginger's two rambunctious boys"”and every time he showed up on camera I found myself laughing in a good way. His face is so totally honest, so oblivious to Cate Blanchett's sarcasm and cutting remarks, that he deserves his own paragraph.