By M. Scott Morris
From start to finish, it’s clear masters of their crafts are at work in “Blue Jasmine.”
Let’s start with Cate Blanchett, who portrays Jasmine. The character was married to Hal (Alec Baldwin), a Bernie Madoff-type who lived exceedingly well by playing fast and loose with the law.
We meet Jasmine on a plane as she tells her life story to an unlucky airline passenger sitting next to her. It’s hard to like Jasmine, but I still found myself pulling for her.
Jasmine’s lost everything – more than everything, really. She owes the government large sums, and her husband committed suicide in jail.
She’s moving in with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), who’s always stuck to the blue-collar life. Ginger’s first husband (Andrew Dice Clay) beat her, and her current boyfriend (Bobby Cannavale) has more than his share of rough edges.
Jasmine doesn’t belong in Ginger’s world, and she might have a shot at getting back on top, if she can keep out of her own way.
Her back story with Hal is told through flashbacks, and this is where another master shines.
Writer and director Woody Allen’s narrative fits snugly together and reaches an emotional climax that seems inevitable in hindsight.
Through it all, I felt like I was watching real people on screen. The choice of ‘90s comic Clay might seem like stunt-casting, except he’s involved in pivotal scenes and disappears into his role.
Hawkins, Cannavale, Baldwin, Louis C.K. and Peter Sarsgaard are strong ensemble players, but this story is always about Jasmine. Can she stop her descent from unbelievable heights?
Blanchett’s face often takes on the visage of someone in complete control, but that control keeps cracking to reveal Jasmine’s broken humanity.
The movie isn’t always easy to watch. Jasmine is free with her opinions and speaks cutting truths in front of others, but her words eventually find a way to bounce back onto her.
Blanchett and Allen, masters of their crafts, combine their talents to give this terribly fascinating character life on screen.
I give “Blue Jasmine” an A.
It’s showing at the Malco in Tupelo.
Look for movie reviews in Scene on Thursdays, and listen each Tuesday morning on Wizard 106.7 between 8:30 and 8:45 a.m.
Kelli Karlson Wizard 106.7
She gives “Blue Jasmine” a B.
‘I don’t like Woody Allen, but I didn’t hate this movie.’