Woody Allen is back, again. After Midnight in Paris and Vicky Cristina Barcelona he is returning to what he knows best: neurotic behaviour. But Blue Jasmine is far from a comedy; it is a drama portraying the breakdown of the high and mighty.
Self-named Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) has lost everything, her husband, her pent-house, her step-son and all of her money. Forced to abandon her Park Avenue home Jasmine moves in with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco. This shabby chic apartment above a Mexican café is far from Jasmines usual standards and she can seemingly only survive with the help of a steady flow of alcohol.
Not wanting to give up, Jasmine takes a job as a receptionist and tries to better herself with an evening computer course. But she can’t let go of her past life and in flash-backs we meet her ex-husband Hal (Alec Baldwin), her high society friends and obviously questionable lifestyle.
Unable to deal with the present, Jasmine talks obsessively about her past, her wealth, her husband, her travels and property, creating an alternative reality in which she seems more at home than in the real world. Her pearls, Chanel jacket, Fendi bag and Roger Vivier shoes are all that remains of this high flying past, that she is so desperately yearns for.
Over time Jasmine unravels more and more and when her last hope, a promised engagement to diplomat Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), evaporates because of the web of lies she spins, she becomes completely undone.
Allen is at his best in Blue Jasmine but it is arguable that this is mainly down to Blachett’s stellar performance. The only downside to her brilliant portrayal of this Park Avenue downfall is that she isn’t very likable.
Hawkins as Blachetts sister Ginger is good, but sadly nearly a caricature of what Allen deems working class Americans to be like. Baldwin is wonderful as Hal, he is a businessman with a hidden agenda, a little to squeaky clean, has affairs but still quite likeable.
Overall Blue Jasmine is a good film, a return to what we expect from Woody Allen, with a little bit more grit. However it doesn’t quite have the greatness of his early works like Annie Hall or Manhatten, even if the soundtrack is brilliant. The strong plot, fantastic actors and brilliant lead make Blue Jasmine a film to watch, not just if you are an Allen or Blanchett fan.