Frequent readers of the blog will know how I felt about the last Woody Allen film I had the misfortune of seeing. To Rome with Love was a pretentious, nonsensical, indulgent film about characters who, even with all will in the world, the audience laboured to endure at best. Thankfully Blue Jasmine, the story of a women who has to come to terms with having nothing when she once had it all, is everything that this film was not. Back to his best, in a territory Allen easily traverses, Jasmine is a living incarnation of the pithy, witty, neurotic New-Yorker that he is so at home with. Going back to basics, with a relatively simply narrative and a smaller cast, has allowed Allen to create characters we want to watch- may not always like- but who we can sympathise with and are compelled by the minute they appear on screen.
As much as this is a vehicle for the layered writing of Allen, this is undoubtedly THE vehicle for Cate Blanchett. She is Jasmine and boy what a Jasmine she is. Vodka swilling and pill popping her way through this goliath performance, Blanchett is simply phenomenal. Her neuroses and anxieties permeate the screen, demanding empathy and understanding from the audience just as she does from the other characters. Blanchett successfully embodies childlike naivety, brow beaten desperation and flat-out hysteria in a way that many lesser actresses would have struggled with.
If you’re looking for a love story with a happy ending then you’ll be disappointed as Allen pulls no punches here with his bleak, brash examination of a woman struggling with identity, loss and failure. Blue Jasmine is simply a short, punchy piece of film making with a terrific cast and a stand out performance from a sublime actress.