DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

BLUE JASMINE (director/writer: Woody Allen; cinematographer: Javier Aguirresarobe; editor:  Alisa Lepselter; cast: Alec Baldwin (Hal), Cate Blanchett (Jasmine French), Louis C. K. (Al), Bobby Cannavale (Chili), Andrew Dice Clay (Augie), Sally Hawkins (Ginger), Peter Sarsgaard (Dwight), Michael Stuhlbarg (Dr. Flicker), Kathy Tong (Raylene), Shannon Finn (Sharon, Jasmine's friend from computer class), Max Casella (Eddie), Charlie Tahan (Young Danny), Alden Ehrenreich (Older Danny), Joy Carling (Airplane Passenger); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Letty Aronson/Stephen Tenenbaum/Edward Walson; Sony Picture Classics; 2013)

"Blanchett carries this uneven character-driven pic with more depth than what passes for drama in the usual Woody flick."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Woody Allen ("The Purple Rose of Cairo"/"Annie  Hall"/"Bananas") moves his act from New York City to San Francisco and moves seamlessly from comedy to tragedy, and has the great actress Cate Blanchett go Blanche DuBois on us (something she did before on the NYC stage at the Kennedy Center in 2009) by playing the renown character from Tennessee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire." Cate's modern-day Blanche is psychologically troubled over her ideal lover, a Bernie Madoff type, turning out to be a narcissistic loser and ruining her life.

Park Avenue and the Hamptons society matron Jasmine' (Cate Blanchett) life comes apart when her wealthy, womanizing, conman venture capitalist philistine collector hubby, Hal (Alex Baldwin), betrays the not suspicious trusting materialistic woman with a number of affairs over the years and in a fit of anger after a talk with her friend she turns him over to the FBI. After investigating his phony stock schemes, they arrest him. Unable to take prison life, Hal hangs himself in his cell. Left without money after the government took away all her assets, Jasmine gets institutionalized for talking to herself in the street and after electrical shock treatment is released with prescriptions for Xanac and other anti-depressant meds. Though always rejecting her low-class adopted sister Ginger (Sally Hawkings), dismissing her as a loser attracted to losers, especially when she was sitting on top of the world, but in desperation after her comedown the financially busted delusional Jasmine needs her help now and takes a plane to stay in sis's cramped apartment where she lives with her two young boys from her former marriage to the hard-working handyman Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) and works as a grocery bagger. In flashback, we learn the marriage came apart when Augie was swindled out of his lottery winnings by investing in a scam run by the heartless financial fraud Hal.

The pic uses flashback to fill us in on Jasmine's wild ride to live the life of leisure with the jet-setters and to her downfall, where even her Harvard attending son Danny (Charlie Tahan) rejected her after his father's arrest. Danny dropped-out of school because of his shame for his father's crimes and abandoned his mom, who he blamed for not being such an innocent victim.

At present it shows the still arrogant Jasmine putting down Ginger's new sincere but crude grease-monkey boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale), even though the couple seem to be a perfect fit.

When the self-absorbed Jasmine's nasty barbs hit home with the good-natured Ginger, she dumps the crest-fallen Chili for the smoothy sex freak sound engineer named Al (Louis C.K.), thinking she's taken a step up the ladder in men. Meanwhile at the same party, the attractive and smartly dressed Jasmine, with designer clothes and a Hermès bag, meets her ideal man, a wealthy and ambitious snake-like diplomat, stationed in Vienna, named Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), who is interested in marrying the right kind of woman who can help him in his future political plans to run for office in California. But things fail to work out for both ladies, as the would-be savior Al has an important secret he failed to tell Ginger, which puts the kibosh on the relationship, while Jasmine's lies about her past come back to haunt her and turn away her would-be savior. When Jasmine's shopping for an engagement ring with Dwight they run into an embittered Augie, who tells all.

Blanchett carries this uneven character-driven pic with more depth than what passes for drama in the usual Woody flick. It's a pic where great acting trumps the sometimes thin storyline.

REVIEWED ON 8/23/2013       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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