It is no secret that Woody Allen is my favourite. The reason I love cinema and the reason I believe in good characters and great writing; Allen’s work is always a comfort and a pleasure. Making a new film every year, there is one opportunity, annually, to sit in a cinema and witness a new Allen film. I have spent the last four years discovering Allen’s body of work but there is something delicious and indulgent about watching his latest work. In his seventy seventh year on this earth, Allen is as imaginative, intelligent and refreshing as he ever was. A director who could have easily peaked with the likes of Manhattan or Annie Hall, Allen has somehow continued to delight and surprise. Midnight in Paris was Allen’s most recent masterpiece. As his most successful film to date, it confirmed that Allen was still fresh, romantic and insightful. Today, I walked out of a screening of Blue Jasmine with the reassurance that Allen refuses to let age or time affect his ability to make great cinema, great characters and, most importantly, great women.
Jasmine has lost everything. Her cheating and deceitful husband has caused her life to plummet from luxury, wealth and New York hierarchy. With no other alternative Jasmine is forced to move in with her sister. From different birth mothers, classes and mind sets, the sisters struggle with each other and the confrontations they provide for one another. Jasmine’s life is documented in a non-linear narrative that highlights just how much her lifestyle, health and sanity has deteriorated. Cate Blanchett gives an outstanding performance and is reminiscent of earlier Allen starlets such as Keaton and Farrow. She brings a rawness and a bleakness to the character of Jasmine that shocks and entertains. Blanchett seems to truly understand Allen’s characters and the importance of their flaws, problems and dilemmas. Sally Hawkins also gives an enjoyable performance, complimented by her on screen chemistry with Bobby Cannavale. Hawkins and Blanchett are superb together – they understand each other as actresses, characters, sisters and women.
Blue Jasmine is not really a masterpiece. It is an enjoyable drama that reminds me, and everyone else it seems, of A Streetcar Named Desire. I would compare it to the likes of Celebrity, Play It Again Sam and Hannah and Her Sisters. It falls just short of the likes of Annie Hall, The Purple Rose of Cairo or Husbands and Wives but it is still a remarkable achievement from a man whose ability to produce a strong script and a fascinating story is still refusing to falter. Sometimes I find myself defending certain Allen films due to my personal love and fan-girl attitude towards his work but Blue Jasmine needs no such defence. It is a strong, confident, blunt and brave film that demonstrated Allen’s talent and scope as a director, writer and auteur.
Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.