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home : columnists and contributors : columnists and contributors May 2, 2016

10/2/2013 12:01:00 AM
Movie Review: Blue Jasmine
Cynthia Morse Zumbaugh

This is easily the best Woody Allen movie since Hannah and Her Sisters. There was a time, in the seventies, when I awaited each new release from Allen anxiously; his movies were amazing. Maybe it was all his personal problems, who knows, but his work for the past couple of decades was increasingly strange and not a lot of fun to watch. I tried very hard to make it through Everyone Says I Love You; I just never made it to the end.

Blue Jasmine is not what I would have called a typical Woody Allen movie, but it was mesmerizing. Not only is he still one of the best when it comes to writing conversational dialogue, Cate Blanchett's performance is incredible.

I will say that his plot was not the most original I have ever seen. I hope he thanked Tennessee Williams because so much of this story was reminiscent of A Streetcar Named Desire. Formerly high living sister falls on hard times (and some mental issues) and comes to live with low brow sister, creating havoc in the sister's relationship and looking down on the sisters' way of life, all the while abusing the hospitality. Snooty sister's non-grasp of reality and tentative association with the truth costs her a new relationship. Sound at all familiar? Obviously, there are some differences, but the foundation is Williams.

In this telling, Jasmine a.k.a. Jeannette is used to living the high life in Manhattan with financier husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) but that comes crashing down with a visit from the FBI. Jasmine, with no money and no job, moves to San Francisco to live with her sister and begin a new life. She takes a "menial" job working as a receptionist while planning to get an on-line degree as an interior decorator. She hated her sister's ex-husband and is no fonder of the current boyfriend and those feelings are mutual.

Alec Baldwin is slimy and despicable as Jasmine's husband and Sally Hawkins is very sweet as her sister, Ginger, but this movie belongs to Blanchett. It is worth the admission just to see her amazing portrayal of this woman balancing on the edge.

By the way, I don't think that talking to yourself in public is necessarily a sign of mental issues; I do it all the time (that's probably not the best argument I've ever made.)

Rated PG-13 for some profanity and sexual situations, but children (and adults who need constant action) will be bored by this character driven plot.

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