It’s been a while since my last film of the week (‘of the week’ is more of a tagline than a truth), but that’s less to do with a scarcity of material and more to do with a lack of time. In fact, it’s been an exceptionally good couple of months for me in terms of watching… so to kick things off, one of my favourites and one of Woody Allen’s best, Blue Jasmine.
Allen’s latest films have been slightly disappointing. ‘To Rome with Love’ was okay, ‘Midnight in Paris’ was just down right dull (and that’s coming from an Owen Wilson fan), but luckily ‘Blue Jasmine’ popped up just in time to prove the old man hasn’t lost his edge. Unlike the latter two, ‘Blue Jasmine’ leans more towards the side of tragedy. That’s not to say it’s without it’s comedy – there are several scenes worthy of a smirk – but even those are underlined by pain and desperation. This is not a criticism, however, but rather one of the film’s great strengths. It gives it consistency and allows for a deeper character exploration. Cate Blanchett demonstrates this beautifully as the former New York socialite, Jasmine whose life has collapsed after her husband’s imprisonment. Jasmine is forced to restart her life in San Franciso, living with her adoptive sister who she was previously so ashamed of. The story flits between past as present as Jasmine struggles to shape herself a career and formulate any type of social-relations whilst her mental instability becomes increasingly apparent. Trapped in a state of constant anxiety, Jasmine is emotionally exhausting to watch as she continues on her destructive path. Relief from Jasmine’s intensity however is provided by her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins) whose kindness is all the more admirable in contrast with such extreme self absorption. You can’t help, but pity Jasmine though in her desperate, frantic state and despise her slime ball of a husband, played by the master of the role, Alec Baldwin. After all, how much trauma can one person withstand?
VERDICT: It requires concentration, but the acting is phenomenal and the narrative ingeniously interwoven to create a startling and deeply saddening image of one women pushed to the very edge. Perhaps Allen’s most powerful film yet.
Hit play to watch the trailer: