Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen, 2013)

A New York socialite, deeply troubled and in denial, arrives in San Francisco to impose upon her sister. She looks a million, but isn't bringing money, peace, or love.

Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Carravale

The point of this, in hindsight, might be seen as creating a vehicle for Cate Blanchett to win the award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role at the 2014 Oscars. However, it's a beautifully crafted film by master hobbyist film-maker Woody Allen. It has unity as well as sufficient complexity, relevance, and art. It manages to be both a social-realist document and also an art film, which is not an easy thing to achieve. The open ending is unforgettable, and cathartic.

When Cate Blanchett first cruises into Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, playing a Park Avenue matron fallen on hard times, she looks like a million bucks. She’s wearing pearls and a white Chanel jacket, with an Hermès bag as big as a Shetland pony hanging off one arm. It’s the sort of important accessory worn by women accustomed to being chauffeured around town. Soon after, though, as she stands with her monogrammed luggage on a nondescript San Francisco sidewalk, she looks frightened, alone — like someone who could benefit from some kindness. Instead, she waves off a stranger and, posing a question that’s as existential as it is practical, demands, “Where am I, exactly?” Manohla Dargis, New York Times.

Behind all of this, of course, lurks the spectre of A Streetcar Named Desire, which similarly boasted a delusional protagonist whose airs and graces wreak havoc in the down-at-heel home of her sister. Blanchett famously played Blanche DuBois in Liv Ullmann's acclaimed stage production, prompting the New York Times to proclaim that "the lady who lives for illusion has never felt more real". Although Allen has underplayed the comparison, his blue Jasmine clearly has her roots in the white woods of Tennessee Williams's antiheroine, providing a cornerstone upon which Blanchett builds another towering performance. Mark Kermode, The Guardian.

Garry Gillard | reviews | New: 14 March, 2017 | Now: 12 August, 2017