Susan Granger's review of 'Blue Jasmine'
Published 3:08 pm, Friday, August 9, 2013
For many years, WASPy, elegant Jasmine has been the trophy wife of Hal (Alec Baldwin), a conniving, mega-rich Manhattan financier. Having changed her name from the more prosaic Jeanette many years ago, she's a svelte, self-absorbed, snobbish Upper East Side socialite who lives on Park Avenue and spends weekends in the Hamptons.
But her lavish lifestyle falls apart when she discovers Hal's investment banking is not only dishonest but also he's a habitual philanderer.
More InformationFact box
When he's sent to prison and the government repossesses everything, pampered Jasmine has no choice but to pack her monogrammed Vuitton bags and relocate to San Francisco. Moving in with her adopted sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins), a hard-working grocery store clerk/single mother with two young sons, unhinged Jasmine self-medicates with vodka
and tranquilizers. Financially forced into taking a "menial" job as a dentist's receptionist, humbled-yet-conflicted Jasmine yearns for the affluent life
and to become someone "substantial" again. That's when
she meets Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), a wealthy widower/
diplomat with political aspirations.
As she gradually slides from grace, luminous Blanchett is masterful, playing her fluttering, delusional, Chanel-clad character with exquisitely fluid precision, while writer/director Allen adroitly alternates between Jasmine's memory flashbacks and reality in two distinct timelines. Like "Crimes and Misdemeanors" and "Match Point," the tone eloquently drifts from light comedy to dark, psychological melodrama. It's a cleverly adventurous concept, skillfully done, often evoking comparisons with Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams' "Streetcar Named Desire." Allen's casting is superb, including supporting, caricatured turns by Andrew Dice Clay, Michael Stuhlbarg, Louis C.K. and Bobby Cannavale -- and the soundtrack features the Richard Rodgers/Lorenz Hart 1934 ballad "Blue Moon."
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Blue Jasmine" is an unsettling, insightful 9. Woody Allen is 78 years old; this is his 48th film -- and one of his best.