BLUE JASMINE, which is saved, as Allen's films often are, by first-class casting and acting. As a writer, the guy seems to grow sloppier, while directing-wise he's even less fussy than in the old days and so more on-the-mark. Notice how he handles the repeated back-and-forth of time frames to present and past. These are sharp, clear and focused so that we quickly know where we are and whether it's now or then. It's as though he's telling us, "Look I don't have time to erect all the signposts; just follow along!" And we do.
Cate Blanchett, above, whose marriage and fancy, moneyed life have recently collapsed. She's left New York City and the Hamptons for the much simpler and more affordable(!) world of San Francisco. This location shows how out-of-touch Mr Allen is with where working people can afford to live, but I guess the midwest would not have been as much fun for him to film. San Francisco is the home of her lower-class sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins, below, left, with Andrew Dice Clay, who plays -- and very well -- her former husband).
Alec Baldwin, below, center, and fine, as usual) was evidently derived from fakery (think Bernie Madoff).
Michael Stuhlbarg) and then, nothing -- indicates that Allen has little understanding of or interest in how most of us pay our bills.
Bobby Cannavale, above, left) and his best friend (Max Casella, above, right) who remain walking, talking clichés. That Cannavale and Casella walk and talk damn well, goes some distance toward camouflaging this. But there are times when, watching Cannavale act, you think, God, he must have been dying for a bit of decent dialog! But none of the characters here, save Jasmine, are given any depth by their author.
Peter Sarsgaard (above) appears (then rather quickly disappears), the coincidences really hit home. Through it all, Ms Blanchett delivers a spot-on performance, with every moment real (and often grating). Cate's too smart an actress to try to sugar-coat her character, who is, let's face it, a horror who just keep growing more horrible. That the actress has played -- and quite well, I am told -- Blanche DuBois could only have helped her performance -- which is some kind of wonderfully strange concoction of Blanche and a character somewhat like Mr. Madoff's wife (but younger), who could not have helped but know what her husband was up to on some level but ignored it all to bask in the wealth. At this point in our film year, Blanchett would seem a shoo-in for an Oscar nomination.
Louis C.K. with Ms Hawkins, above.) It is light on its feet, as shallow movies with weighty themes sometimes are. I think Allen may not have intentionally gone after a character study, but that's what, thanks mostly to Blanchett, he has achieved. It's a good one, too -- even memorable -- though everything else here pales beside it.
Sony Pictures Classics and running 98 minutes, opens this Friday, July 26, in New York City (at the Angelika Film Center, City Cinemas 123, Lincoln Plaza Cinema), in Brooklyn (at the BAM Harvey Theater) and in Los Angeles (at The Landmark and perhaps elsewhere). From there, a national rollout will follows in cities across the U.S.