I have made no secret that one of a handful of my favorite movies of the 21st Century is Woody Allen’s Match Point. I liked Midnight in Paris (2011) a lot. I enjoyed Cassandra’s Dream (2007), Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) and To Rome with Love (2012). But, for me, 2005’s Match Point is Allen’s 21st century masterpiece. Why? Well, it’s not Allen’s usual depressed, anxious and, at times, tedious schtick. That worked fine in his early films, ala Annie Hall (1977) and Manhattan (1979) but over time, it just got overdone and overused. Also, Match Point is far from Allen’s usual comfort zone…it’s NOT set in New York and it’s not a comedy —in any way. Crimes and Misdemeanors (1989) also can be seen as an Allen drama, as could Interiors (1978) and September (1987), but those still have some of Allen’s trademark nervousness (Crimes and Misdemeanors even features Allen in a role where he acts in his usual Allenesque way). Match Point does not feature any characters with serious neuroses. Yes, they are troubled but they are troubled in a calm, passionate way…not in a psychological, overly-emotional manner.
So, what do we have in Blue Jasmine, Allen’s latest film?
A VERY troubled woman, who has emotional and psychological problems, as well as quite a few neuroses and anxieties. But, somehow, Cate Blanchett’s performance (for which she has been winning awards left and right, not to mention being the Best Actress Oscar frontrunner) and Allen’s tightly-wound script make Blue Jasmine work.
Blanchett plays Jasmine, a wealthy Manhattan homemaker, who becomes destitute and homeless after her businessman husband is exposed as a fraud and a cheat. She flees to San Francisco for a new start, moving into her sister Ginger’s modest apartment. However, the former socialite refuses to face the reality of her situation and has a hard time adjusting to a different lifestyle. If you could not tell from the description, this is NOT, by any means, a comedy. It is a serious, dramatic film and even though Jasmine has more than her fair share of quirks (and then some), they didn’t bother me so much here. And Blanchett’s performance (as well as Best Supporting Actress nominee Sally Hawkins who plays Jasmine’s sister) makes this movie a must-see movie. No, it is not another Woody Allen masterpiece. But, it is a strong film with complex, multi-layered characters and fantastic award-winning performances.
Blue Jasmine: 2013, PG-13, 98 minutes, written and directed by Woody Allen, starring Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, and Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale and Andrew Dice Clay. Nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay (Woody Allen).
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