Blue Jasmine – Oscar for Blanchett, but is there much else?

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So Woody Allen’s latest film Blue Jasmine has been hotly anticipated this year, people already talking about Blanchett being a shoe in for a best actress Oscar. So when I tipped up to the cinema I must admit that my expectations were pretty high.

I have to admit that my expectations weren’t fully satisfied, they nearly were, but just not quite. Woody Allen loves writing and Directing women, he is very open about it and has said in the past that he is constantly writing stories about different women and they way they deal with things. He is a funny man isn’t he. This adoration of women is very obvious here, the main two characters are Jasmine and Ginger (Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins) two adopted sisters who have very different lives. Jasmine has a hugely wealthy husband (Alec Baldwin) and Ginger has two children and is getting by living in a small house above a restaurant, making ends meet by working as a cashier in a local shop. The drama comes when Jasmine’s life is tipped upside down when her relationship with her wealthy husband breaks down and she is forced to have to move in with her sister.

Now there is no getting around it, Blanchett is utterly brilliant in this film. She is suffering from severe mental issues leading from the breakdown of her marriage and the character that she portrays is a very interesting one to watch. And really that is all you do in this film, you watch her. You don’t much of a chance to feel anything for her. Allen only reveals the details of the story throughout the film, possibly a clever link to Jasmine’s psyche and how she only remembers certain things after a period of time. The use of flashback is a great way of drip feeding us what has happened and how she has become what she is, but it does mean that we don’t get to know her really until the end of the film, and by then it is too late to feel anything for her. It is almost as if Allen doesn’t want us to empathise with the characters, he just wants us to see what they are going through and how they deal with it.

The same can be said of Jasmine’s sister Ginger. Sally Hawkins is great here, firstly she is from London and her American accent is flawless and secondly because she has a number of scenes where she has to endure Jasmine’s tantrums and anger, she bring a lovely subtlety to the film and it contrasts nicely with the brashness of Jasmine. one scene stands out in particular for Ginger, when she goes out on a limb with a new lover she is forced to call him to ask where he is when he doesn’t show for their date. The scene is just her, center screen, on the phone. Now being an actor myself I know how incredibly difficult it can be when a camera is pointed at you and then someone shouts “action” but Sally Hawkins is breathtaking and makes it look very easy indeed.

Alec Baldwin turns in a good showing as the wealthy husband (who is a bit naughty) and there are some other nice cameos too that really show off the pacey dialogue that Allen is famous for, but really this film is all about Cate Blanchett. Her character is fascinating, but you don’t get a chance to feel deeply for her, or anyone for that matter. Their doesn’t seem to be a huge amount of substance here, it is just here for the sake of it. Which is of course fine, not every film needs to be full of substance and meaning and subtext, but it does feel lacking here.

All in all I will give this a 7 out of 10. Is it the case now that Woody Allen is so huge and so powerful in the movie world that when he says he wants to make a film money is instantly given to him? He wrote and directed this film and so it is all from his mind and maybe someone needs to reign him in a bit and get him to flesh out the story a bit.

The 7 out of 10 is all for Blanchett who gives a masterclass in character analysis and the delicate portrayal of mental health issues. She is superb but the film itself leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe I’m wrong, but I was hoping for more.

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