LocationMagnolia Theater 3699 McKinney Ave., Ste. 100 Dallas, TX 75204
DatesOpens July 9
Woody Allen’s latest film is a welcomed break from the tourist comedies (Midnight in Paris, To Rome With Love) that have defined his output over the past few years. Blue Jasmine is, in fact, not really a comedy at all, though it is shot-through with a dry, dark sense of ironic humor. Instead, the film presents a deft portrayal of a hopeless character, Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), a recent divorcee from New York who thrusts herself on her estranged sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkings), who lives in San Francisco. The result is a tense ricochet of lives churned up by sharp dichotomy of class and temperament.
Jasmine married into the high-powered world of the New York elite, and her expectations for life and understanding of her self-worth has been shaped by her years with the sociopathic Hal (Alec Baldwin). Ginger, on the other hand, has wallowed with the world’s saltier characters. Her own failed marriage to the uncouth and blue collar – if appealing and warm hearted – Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), resulted in both children and poverty. Bringing the two back together is an oil and water mix of personalities, further agitated by an uneasy history between the sisters.
Blue Jasmine’s ying/yang, upper/lower dynamics might feel forced or put on if not for the strength of the performances, particularly Blanchett’s dynamic portrayal of the booze-gulping Jasmine, whose inability to come to grips with her life prompts a steadily worsening of her psychological well-being. There’s also an enjoyable smaller role turned in by Louis C.K. who plays Al, a man who has a brief and steamy affair with Ginger after Jasmine’s presence undermines the sister’s confidence in her current boyfriend, another salty blue collar Italian, Chili (Bobby Cannavale).
The script is also a star here, interweaving a mess of conflicting personalities whose desires and life expectations manifest in a set of subplots that track their desperate attempts to grasp happiness.. If Allen’s portrayal of his salty everymen feels like caricature at times, while his representation of Jasmine’s plummeting as a bourgeois housewife is rich with feeling, perhaps it is because Allen’s own world orbits more closely to the latter character. A filmmaker who has had a finger on the pulse of America for the greater part of a half-century, Blue Jasmine roots the psychological turmoil of the financial bust and of America’s fascination with wealth in a pitiful, if empathetic anti-heroine.