When entering a Woody Allen film, you usually know what you are getting. A borderline insane character with an absurd neurotic outlook on life that resembles the legendary director, a seemingly hilarious issue that gets in that person’s way, and many attempts to find love even with such a polarizing personality. Blue Jasmine is really not different except with its lead, Jasmine (played by Cate Blanchett), who hasn’t created her insanity through neurotic viewpoints and self-inflicted problems but is legitimately insane and completely devoid of all reality.
The film centers around Jasmine, who has gone to San Francisco to live with her sister after her husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) has been arrested in a giant credit fraud. Blanchett plays Jasmine with a neurotic personality that resembles usual Allen characters but with Jasmine, the problems that are plaguing her really did happen but happened in the past and are now being replayed in her mind.
The performance is fantastic by Blanchett as you feel somewhat bad for this stupid person who was living so high and fell so far. But you still hate her as she disassociates herself with her sister who has opened up her home to her even though she has distanced herself from Ginger (Sally Hawkins) in the past, as we are shown in flashbacks with Hal, Jasmine, Ginger, and her ex-husband Augie (played by Andrew Dice Clay).
Clay is fantastic in the role of Augie, who comes into some money and invests with Hal, only to lose it all. He isn’t in the film much but whenever he shows up he steals the scene. Louis C.K. also shows up as Al, a guy who Ginger has a fling with, and does well in his limited exposure and Michael Stuhlbarg as Dr. Flicker, who is interested in Jasmine, adds some problems to Jasmine’s insane life.
The thing that works best in Blue Jasmine is just how distorted reality is to Jasmine and how well Blanchett is able to show the audience. In one scene, Jasmine is watching Ginger’s two boys and they are all eating at a diner. The boys ask her a general question about what happened to her and Jasmine goes off on a long tangent on her life. She begins to recount details and act as if the boys have any idea about what she is talking about. This is an example of many scenes in which Jasmine is recounting past events in public, talking to herself. The scenes are painful but Blanchett pulls them off so well.
Blanchett should be a strong contender for Best Actress at the Oscars as her performance is the driving force of the film. An Original Screenplay nomination could be there for Woody Allen but it depends on how competitive the field gets.
Blue Jasmine is not your usual Woody Allen film but one that shows how great the director has gotten that he can direct a drama so well. Allen’s writing and directing are top notch and the performance by Blanchett helps to make this one of the better films of the year.