I reviewed “Blue Jasmine” for Vox Magazine. You can read my review on its website or below:
It would be easy to hate the titular character of Woody Allen’s latest film, “Blue Jasmine.” Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) is a former member of the one percent who flippantly flings around her wealth like her Birkin bag. When she isn’t going on a narcissistic rant, she verbally attacks the only people who still support her. She is selfish, spiteful and entitled. Yet, Allen manages to make her sympathetic while making one of his best films in the process.
Still reeling from her financial ruin and mental breakdown after her husband (Alec Baldwin) was caught for crooked finance, Jasmine arrives at her estranged sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) apartment in San Francisco. She doesn’t know how to get a job and frequently talks to herself when she isn’t popping Xanax. Despite Jasmine’s dire circumstances, she doesn’t miss any opportunity to belittle Ginger and her rough and tumble boyfriend, Chili (Bobby Cannavale).
Unlike most Allen films, there are no rich people in “Blue Jasmine.” Yes, Jasmine used to own a Manhattan apartment and two beach houses, but she is as broke as her sister who works at the supermarket now. This is a rare Allen film that acknowledges class division but with a sense of humor instead of condescension. It helps that Allen casts comedians such as Andrew Dice Clay and Louis C.K. as two former lovers of Ginger’s, bringing a sense of levity to a film about one woman’s personal crisis.
Jasmine is the perfect anti-heroine in this age when Wall Street bankers are the villains. Blanchett plays with her abandon and dares to show all facets of her character from the most vulnerable to the repulsive. Even at her most unlikable, Jasmine is one of the most complex female protagonists in film today and is surprisingly sympathetic.
“Blue Jasmine” doesn’t feel like a Woody Allen film. He is intentionally absent from the screen, and the dialogue is far less self-indulgently anxious than usual. But in some respects, this is a quintessential Allen film and why he’s considered one of the greats — it’s about humans at their most fragile and neurotic when only humor and brutal honesty can save them.