Blue Jasmine - Blu-ray Review

'Allen seems to drop a predilection towards awkwardness and embarrassment and instead bother with character dynamic and clash. It's a wise decision.'

If you are of the predilection to see autobiographical detail within Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine then it would appear it is certainly there to be found.

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), suffering from a very upper-class psychosis, experiences a fall from grace as tragic as it is almost glibly satisfying. Occupying the dizzying heights of someone who's only concern is whether she can take a day off (a day off from doing what exactly?) to catch up on her yoga and pilates, Jasmine undergoes a very public fall from East Coast splendour to something you suspect she'd describe disparagingly as West Coast 'shabby chic'. A New York socialite - who, by the way, can't use modern technology - embroiled in scandal? Do tell Woody.

Jasmine, for the first act at least, is made so unlikeable that it's difficult to have any sympathy with her plight. This creates a problem for the director in the second half of the film, which makes you wonder whether Jasmine needed to be quite so horrid in the first place. Forced to redress the balance, Allen writes a selection of manufactured scenes, all highly engineered to play our sympathies towards Jasmine. A terrifically clumsy harassment debacle with a socially tone death health worker is the worst of the bunch.

At the half way point, things do change. Allen seems to drop a predilection towards awkwardness and embarrassment and instead bother with character dynamic and clash. It's a wise decision. I've personally never got a kick out of watching the kind of 'comedy of embarrassment' that Ricky Gervais, for example, deals with and Allen isn't suited to it. There's something off tonally when a director is spending so long encouraging us to grimly brush off Jasmine's neuroses, whilst at the same time attempting to invite muffled laughter at that very topic.

As Allen moves on from this, building what Jasmine calls her 'new person', the film takes off. The flashback scenes with Hal (Alec Baldwin) malevolently creep more and more into Jasmine's present, culminating with the very last scene, and Allen allows an attractive drift in focus to Ginger (a terrific Sally Hawkins), herself experiencing the car crash between the social and moral elite. Supporting turns by Andrew Dice Clay (who has his own awful manufactured scene towards the end of the film) and Bobby Cannavale (who gets his open shirt, white-vested Brando moment) help the Drama to keep moving.

This though, as Oscar will doubtless recognise at the beginning of March, is Blanchett's film to carry and in the subtleties she allows to be shown in Jasmine, she carries it terrifically. The end hints at pride, the beginning at an ugly superiority complex, but in between there are deep considerations about mental health, about living in a world only you can see and, closely hidden, of slowly losing the one you love. Allen's film, and Jasmine herself, may teeter on the bring occasionally, but Blanchett never does.




Blue Jasmine is released on UK Blu-ray and DVD on Monday 17th February 2014.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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