When I embarked upon meeting some girlfriends to see Woody Allen’s latest venture I was excited to see what he had come up with this time. After the screening, one of my friends said…I bet when Tennessee Williams wrote Streetcar Named Desire, he had no idea that it would be reincarnated, reinvented and retooled into a 21st Century film directed by Woody Allen.
I’m going out on a limb and proclaiming that Blue Jasmine is Allen’s best film yet, with a haunting and emotionally provocative performance by Oscar winner Cate Blanchett. Blanchett convincingly portrays Jasmine, a waspy New Yorker married to a “Bernie Madoff-esque” financier (Alec Baldwin) who kills himself after being arrested for some unsavory deals. Jasmine, unable to cope and recovering from a nervous breakdown, leaves the Big Apple for San Francisco to live with her sister Ginger. Thus…the story now begins. Time to Cate to dust off that mantel to make room for yet another Oscar-winning performance.
The film’s title is derived from a combination of a song “Blue Moon” and the lead character’s name of Jasmine, which often times is babbled in a Blanche Dubois-esque manner by the lead character in several scenes.
Alec Baldwin certainly has a fan in Woody Allen, as this is his sophomore appearance as a deceased character (the first being his character in TO ROME WITH LOVE). Bobby Carnavale (who is mostly frequently seen on the Broadway stage) is letting us have it with his muscles and passionate blue-collar performance as the mechanic and fiancé of Ginger.
However, the surprise performance comes from comedian turned actor Andrew “Dice” Clay. He convincingly captures the essence of a blue-collar worker, who has been totally broken down due to “dreams deferred like a raisin in the sun”. I suspect Oscar will come knocking at his door as well.
Blue Jasmine is in limited release in only six theaters between New York and Los Angeles. Sony Pictures Classic will release it worldwide on August 23rd.