Patrick White 'Jasmine' latest example of Allen's genius

Woody Allen is easily one of the most subtly versatile directors to have ever lived. While most of his films could be defined as romantic comedy, that is selling the director short. His last critically regarded film “Midnight in Paris” is an entirely different narrative tale compared to his latest, “Blue Jasmine.” While “Midnight in Paris” was an ode to the arts, literature and love, “Blue Jasmine” explores the nature of deception in a relationship and our societal struggle to adapt to a new environment.

Cate Blanchett plays the beauteous beast of burden who must adapt to survive in her new home in San Francisco after living a lavish life of luxury in New York. Blanchett delivers one of the most electric performances of her career with beautiful moments of humor and uncomfortable pieces of drama that will no doubt make an audience squirm. Blanchett’s Jasmine is a brutal, wealthy wannabe who is thrown into the face of reality when her husband (Alec Baldwin) is jailed and revealed to be a player amongst his young associates. Baldwin is entertaining in the film, but it’s so difficult to hate the character having watched Baldwin for years as the lovable Jack Donaghy.

Many other recognizable faces are featured in this film so that Allen matches the caliber of talent he attracted for “Midnight in Paris.” Sally Hawkins as Blanchett’s sister, Ginger, is delightfully different than Jasmine, who apparently has a very large stick in her rear end. Hawkins was perfectly cast as the happygo- lucky sister who only breaks her glee when she is confronted with relationship issues with both the equally different Andrew Dice Clay, Louis C.K. and Bobby Cannavale. These three would-be suitors for the down-and-out poverty stricken younger sister prove to be too much for Ginger and simply not enough at points.

Blanchett meets her own string of suitors opposite scenes with Ginger and hers. Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard) is the ideal man for Jasmine, but their relationship begins on a law that she is prone to use as defense mechanism quite often. Unfortunately for Jasmine, Dwight isn’t the first man interested in her; an overly aggressive co-worker played by the brilliant Michael Stuhlbarg physically rubs Jasmine the wrong way.

Overall, “Blue Jasmine” is definitely the best film Allen has made since “Midnight in Paris” and in no way has the aging director lost his touch with both comedy and relationship drama. Do yourself a favor and see Allen’s latest, because in no other film will you see acting on par with great 1970s comedies of Allen’s past.

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