Blue Jasmine, the latest entry from Woody Allen is the Cate Blanchet show. She plays a tragic woman named Jasmine, who is troubled and one step away from a mental breakdown. She’s close to the edge; having frequent panic attacks, fits, and finding herself talking to herself in the street alone and far removed from the present.
Life was good for Jasmine while she was married to the wealthy Hal (Alec Baldwin), able to live a life of luxury in New York. But it doesn’t last long, as Hal was involved in a Bernie Madoff type financial scheme, leaving Jasmine with nothing but to fend for herself. She’s forced to stay with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco. They are nothing alike, literally, as they were both adopted, and their distant personalities certainly show it. Ginger works at a grocery store, which Jasmine looks at with pity. She isn’t impressed by anything about Ginger’s life, especially not Ginger’s ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) or her new boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale).
Blanchet excels at this role, playing out the emotionally damaged and mentally unstable Jasmine to perfection. She’s riveting with her sense of betrayal and lost purpose in this world. She has plenty of scars, some which are caused by her own reluctance to play well with others, but there’s a lot that is out of her control. She creates a character that you will find yourself frustrated with one second, then sympathizing at the next. There’s a lot of depth and emotion to Jasmine, and it’s all a testament to the true talent that is Cate Blanchet, who is absolutely perfect in this role. There’s no shot that she doesn’t obtain a Oscar nomination this year. I will put money on it. She’s as sure of a lock to win as I can imagine. It’s going to take one hell of a performance to take the gold from her.
Allen’s film asks a lot of you emotionally, but the payoff is there with the performances. Sally Hawkins is wondrous as Jasmine’s sister, tired of being treated as a less-than equal, especially after taking Jasmine in to her home. The somewhat underrated Bobby Cannavale, as always, gives a top tier performance, continuing his hot streak as one of Hollywood’s bright stars. Andrew Dice Clay is surprisingly solid as Ginger’s ex, holding his own quite well against this rock solid cast. Louis C.K. is only in the film for a bit, but he is every bit as great as you could hope, in scenes that actually resemble the best nuanced episodes of Louie far too well. I also would feel bad if I didn’t mention some solid work from Peter Sarsgaard, who I’m always happy to see.
The film itself is rather dark and unsettling at times, watching a person like Jasmine unravel isn’t the easiest thing to do. It takes its toll. But Allen’s script is rock solid. I like how he used flashbacks to Jasmine’s time in New York with Hal to help explain why she is like this in the present. The film has some bumps along the way, but the performance from Blanchet is enough for me to forgive any of their shortcomings. Blue Jasmine is a must watch. It will definitely receive some award attention, and rightfully so. Go see it while you can right now for Blanchet, you won’t be sorry.