Blue Jasmine, Film Review. FACT Cinema.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 9/10

Cast: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Andrew Dice Clay, Bobby Cannavale, Max Casella, Michael Stuhlbarg, Joy Carlin, Peter Sarsgaard, Richard Conti, Annie McNamara, Daniel Jenks, Glen Caspillo, Tammy Blanchard, Kathy Tong.

Every male director needs his absolute leading lady, every screenwriter needs the one person who can carry a film from start to finish and have the audience utterly absorbed by that person’s story. Woody Allen, long since one of the masters of this art, has perhaps the distinction of being able to bring the very best out of the actors who grace his films. The excellent Diane Keaton stands out in his early works as being a gem of comedy and now as Woody Allen comes to the other side of his long career, the outstanding Cate Blanchett gives one of the finest performances of her life in the superb Blue Jasmine.

Jasmine’s life has unravelled; no longer the society girl and popular amongst her friends she finds she has to rely, albeit with much reservation, on her sister, played with fantastic zeal by Sally Hawkins and her boyfriend. Jasmine finds herself completely out of depth and the archetypal Woody Allen neurosis and the way he plays with the mind of the protagonist is played out in nearly a hundred minutes of characteristic Allen-isms and Cate Blanchett rises to this occasion in a way that befits an actor of incredible ability.

What comes across as fresh for a Woody Allen film is that the way Jasmine descent into Schizophrenia, the sudden way she starts talking to herself and replaying old memories in front of onlookers is sensitively handled. This is not playing the fall of a woman into her own private hell for laughs and whilst you can’t help feeling anything but sorrow for her plight, the realisation that it is her fault that she finds herself in this position is one to savour.

With any Woody Allen film, the main character would be nothing without the acting talent that surrounds them. Annie Hall might not have succeeded without the appearance of Paul Simon, Shelley Duval and Christopher Walken, Zelig mightv not have been the masterpiece it is without Mia Farrow or the narration of Patrick Horgan, so Blue Jasmine may have floundered without Alec Baldwin, the superb Sally Hawkins and the sympathetic Andrew Dice Clay.

Comedy needs Woody Allen as fish needs chips, both are all right without each other but the fruitful combination is what makes it stand out and with Cate Blanchett, in a career that has seen her shine as one of the finest actors of her generation and be applauded for films such as Elizabeth, Charlotte Gray and I’m Not There, gives a consummate and stunning performance that is worthy of both the actor and writer.

Ian D. Hall