Movie Review: Blue Jasmine (2013)

Posted: July 6, 2014 in Comedy, Drama
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blue jasmine

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) is a wealthy socialite living in Manhattan.   She’s got everyone’s idea of a dream life.  She has lots of money, a handsome investment banker husband named Hal ,(Alec Baldwin) and a son Danny, (Charlie Tahan, Alden Ehrenreich) going to Harvard.  Slowly, the dream turns into a nightmare as Jasmine hears rumors of government investigations into Hal’s business dealings, and rumors of his illicit affairs with other women.  Jasmine pretends to be blissfully unaware as long as she can maintain her posh lifestyle. Both rumors are true, and Hal is dragged off to jail where he unceremoniously hangs himself.  Jasmine is devastated by the turn of events, and decides to live with her blue collar sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) and her husband, Augie. (Andrew Dice Clay)  Augie loses a bundle in one of Hal’s investments, and leaves Ginger.  Ginger starts living with a guy named Chili (Bobby Carnavale)

Jasmine tries to re-invent herself by taking night classes to learn how to be computer literate, and working at the front desk at a dental office.  That plan goes horribly awry when the dentist, Dr. Flicker (Michael Stuhlberg) attacks Jasmine after she rebuffs his many advances.  She quits her job and begins dating Dwight, (Peter Sarsgaard) a diplomat and a recent widower.  Jasmine lies to Dwight about her occupation, the circumstances of her husband’s death and her not having children, but plans to marry him anyway.  Does the truth come out about Hal and Danny?  Are Jasmine’s plans for wedded bliss headed for ruin?

Blue Jasmine is another pedestrian effort by writer director Woody Allen.  It seems like a lot of the critics like this movie, because it is written by Allen, and stars such A-List talent like Cate Blanchett.  This movie aims to be the Philadelphia Story, but misses by a lot.  Cate Blanchett tries to play the Katherine Hepburn role of wealthy socialite who has to mingle with the rabble, but Kate Hepburn plays a haughty diva much better than Cate Blanchett, and The Philadelphia Story is a much funnier film.  Blue Jasmine feels trite, and perfunctory, it tries to adapt the same class-based themes as The Philadelphia Story without nearly as many laughs.  Allen doesn’t really have an ear for other ethnicities, so the Italian characters sound like stereotypes.

Blanchet is good playing an aristocratic condescending snob, but then writer Allen adds another wrinkle to her role, and now she becomes, pill popping, neurotic, aristocrat who talks to herself, and that’s too much for even Blanchett to handle.  She overplays the crazy lady part, and that ruined an otherwise good performance.  Director Allen probably encouraged her over the top craziness, because that’s how Allen played those roles himself in his early films.  Sally Hawkins is horribly miscast as Blanchett’s blue-collar sister.  Blue collar British yes, blue collar New Yorker, no. She was fighting her accent a lot in this movie. Alec Baldwin plays Hal as a caricature of a super-rich businessman, much the same way he played Jack Donoghy on 30 Rock.  But I thought Baldwin was aware of the satire in 30 Rock, but apparently not. Andrew Dice Clay plays Andrew Dice Clay, which is to say, he is a walking stereotype. Peter Sarsgaard plays the same whimpering imp he plays in all his roles. Louis CK is woefully underutilized.

One last bone I have to pick with director Allen is the pacing of this film, it’s dreadfully slow, it clocked in at under two hours , but it felt much longer.  The  Ginger/Chili subplot was wholly unnecessary and made the story meander.  Some editing would have helped pick up the pace.

Blue Jasmine:  Left me green under the gills.

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