By Alan Yudman, Movie Reviewer
Every decision we make in life has consequences. We think we may be doing what’s right, but sometimes it can turn out very wrong. Sometimes we act impulsively with good intentions and that sends our lives into a tailspin from which there is no escape.
That seems to be the message behind Blue Jasmine.
Far be it from me to get inside Woody Allen’s head. That can be a very weird place. In Blue Jasmine, every character makes a life altering choice. Sometimes it works out. Most of the time it doesn’t.
The chief offender here is Jasmine, wonderfully portrayed by Cate Blanchett. We first see her on a plane flying to San Francisco from New York. Her husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) was indicted and sent to prison for some type of financial fraud, the details of which we never really find out — other than he seems to be a better looking Bernie Madoff.
Jasmine is going to live with her sister Ginger, who is divorced from the father of her two boys, Andrew Dice Clay, and is dating Bobby Canavale.
Jasmine is a complete mess. She’s obviously had some kind of psychotic break that is alluded to several times. Jasmine goes off on soliloquies about her life and sometimes slips into another reality. All of her own troubles don’t keep her from judging her sister’s choices and looking down her nose at the way Ginger lives.
But Jasmine simply cannot handle life. She was never prepared for it.
Allen uses humor to deflect tension and also create it. There are several times while watching the film you laugh, then immediately feel guilty because you are laughing at someone who is so hopelessly damaged.
Allen’s dialog is smart and funny. His direction is perfect. He brings out the best in the actors he works with. Blanchett is fabulous, but she is a great actress even without the help of Woody Allen’s words and direction.
It’s the other players who benefit from his genius. Andrew Dice Clay is wonderful as Jasmine’s ex-brother-in-law, who was screwed out of his money by her crook of a husband.
Bobby Canavale (Gyp Rossetti from “Boardwalk Empire”) is perfectly cast as Ginger’s passionate boyfriend.
Sally Hawkins is great. So are Michael Stuhlbarg, Louis C.K., Peter Sarsgaard and Alec Baldwin. Their work as an ensemble is amazing. As horrible as his characters are at making choices, Allen’s are mostly perfect.
Every decision, big or small, that the characters make turns the plot on its head. And those bad choices drive the movie. You wind up waiting to see how the consequences unfold.
But it’s one choice, one decision that is the tipping point, and it is a twist that you probably won’t see coming until the last minute.
And that’s just one thing that makes Blue Jasmine such a special movie.
Blue Jasmine is rated PG-13 for language and adult themes.
You can see more reviews by Alan Yudman at his blog, Hollywood and Whine.
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November 12, 2012
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Saying there is a 'twist' is the worst type of spoile