Sorry for the silence on The Multiverse this week but I decided to take a little holiday from work over the last few days. On a lazy Tuesday afternoon I went to the IFI to see Woody Allen’s latest film Blue Jasmine, starring Cate Blanchett.
As many other reviewers have mentioned, Blue Jasmine is a reimagining of Tennessee William’s classic play A Streetcar Named Desire. In Allen’s film, Blanchett plays Jasmine Francis (Blanche DuBois in Streetcar), a socialite and trophy wife of Hal Francis played by Alec Baldwin. Through flashbacks we see Jasmine and Hal’s gilded life: a house in the Hamptons and a Park Avenue apartment, designer clothes and expensive jewellery, lavish dinner parties and cruises in the South of France. This all comes to an abrupt end when Hal is indicted by the FBI for shady business dealings reminiscent of the Ponzi scheme by Bernie Madoff. Jasmine has a nervous breakdown when the extent of Hal’s fraud becomes clear and having no money left, she is forced to flee to San Francisco to live with her sister Ginger.
Ginger (Stella Kowalski in Streetcar) played by Sally Hawkins, is involved with Chili (Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar) played by Bobby Cannavale, a rough and ready mechanic who rubs Jasmine up the wrong way with his uncouth manner and blue collar masculinity. Jasmine is incapable of adjusting to life in a small noisy apartment with Ginger and her children and she takes to downing huge quantities of Xanax washed down with Stolichnaya to escape reality.
It wouldn’t be a Woody Allen film without some flashes of humour and there are some funny moments, but by and large Blue Jasmine is more of a tragedy than a comedy and certainly the saddest of Allen’s recent films. It’s a character study of a woman in crisis and is jaw-droppingly good, in no small part due to Blanchett’s enormous talent. No-one else in Hollywood could have played this role as well. She looks the part – patrician, poised and chic – and she conveys Jasmine’s selfishness and neuroticism in a way that allows the viewer to have some sympathy for her.
From now till Christmas there will be a bumper crop of serious films all vying for awards season honours and Cate Blanchett must surely be a front runner for Best Actress awards based on her performance in this film. I wouldn’t be surprised if Blue Jasmine is nominated in other categories as well. If you’re looking for a movie to check out this weekend, I can’t recommend Blue Jasmine highly enough.