By Megan Bianco
It’s interesting how a filmmaker as inconsistent and experimental as Woody Allen can toss out a hit simply by not casting himself. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008), Midnight in Paris (2011) and now Blue Jasmine are all better, and more relatable to audiences, than Scoop (2006) and To Rome with Love (2012), partly because Allen chose to feature younger actors rather than himself. Jasmine returns Allen to America, after a set of films shot in Europe, and reminds us of the days when he was in his prime with Annie Hall (1977) and Hannah and Her Sisters (1986).
In nonlinear fashion, the story follows a delusional and unstable socialite named Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) and the fate of her doomed marriage to Hal (Alec Baldwin). The story takes place in both Manhattan and San Francisco and includes Jasmine’s move into her sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) apartment with Ginger’s two sons and rowdy boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale).
Andrew Dice Clay co-stars as Ginger’s ex-husband Augie and Alden Ehrenreich plays Jasmine’s stepson Danny. Blanchett—following in the footsteps of previous Allen-directed performances such as Diane Keaton in Interiors (1978) and Judy Davis in Husbands and Wives (1992)—is already receiving tons of fully-deserved award hype for her portrayal. Hawkins delivers an equally charming performance as the frustrated yet still optimistic sister. Blue Jasmine is Allen’s nod to family dysfunction a la A Streetcar Named Desire yet it still manages to maintain that recognizable “Woody feel.”