Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Blue Jasmine

Left to right: Cate Blanchett as Jasmine, Max Casella as Eddie,
 Bobby Cannavale as Chili and Sally Hawkins as Ginger
Photo by Merrick Morton © 2013 Gravier Productions
 Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
This week I saw a preview screening of Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen's new movie starring Cate Blanchett as Jasmine, a proud but useless woman, whose life married to a wealthy New York financier has collapsed. Bankrupt & friendless, she arrives in San Francisco to stay with her working-class sister in the Mission. The film hovers between pathos & comedy & sadistically charts Jasmine's unwinding mental state, seen in flashbacks & miserable misadventures. Ms. Blanchett gives Jasmine a Hamptons drawl & a patronizing air & never plays for sympathy. I continually cringed at her behavior.

I liked the naturalistic performance of Sally Hawkins as Jasmine's hardscrabble sister. Michael Stuhlbarg is frightening as Jasmine's creep of a boss. The handsome Bobby Cannavale plays an Italian lunkhead stereotype affectionately. Alec Baldwin, Andrew Dice Clay & Peter Sarsgaard are also fittingly cast.

Though the San Francisco setting is significant only in so far as it is not New York, many scenes take place in recognizable locations. We even know the exact address of the Mission District apartment where Jasmine stays. The story has echoes of A Streetcar Named Desire, & the unsettled ending may explain why there are so many crazy people muttering to themselves on park benches.

Sally Hawkins as Ginger and Louis CK as Al
Photo by Merrick Morton  © 2013 Gravier Productions
Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

The press screening was over-capacity, & they had to bring in folding chairs to accommodate everyone. The audience applauded when Louis C.K. appeared on screen as a party guest, dancing with Jasmine's sister. The gentleman seated in front of me laughed out loud when Jasmine revealed she had received electroshock therapy. Even in a room full of critics, someone's cellphone rang halfway through the movie.

Blue Jasmine opens in Bay Area theaters on August 2nd.

§ Blue Jasmine
Director: Woody Allen
USA, 2013, 98 min

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