The Awards season is soon approaching and I was fortunate enough to watch three magnificent movies laden with some superb performances. The first one out of them is Woody Allen’s ‘Blue Jasmine’, a much acclaimed take on ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ (1951) starring Vivian Leigh, Marlon Brando, Kim Hunter and Karl Malden.
In Allen’s take Cate Blanchett plays the role that was immortalized by Vivian Leigh in the 1951 original. However Cate doesn’t disappoint, she is right up there and I am hoping she wins all the Best Actor awards if she is not upstaged by Meryl Streep with her dynamite performance in ‘August: Osage County’ (more about it in the detailed review of the said movie).
Blanchett plays a former New York socialite Jasmine whose life goes Topsy-turvy in the wake of her husband’s imprisonment and subsequent death. Jasmine is forced to go and stay with her Louis Vuitton luggage in the incongruous surroundings of her adoptive sister’s San Francisco apartment, with corrosive results. Attempting to “move on” and make a new start, Jasmine is finally out of her depth as she careers between ill-fitting employment, ill-judged social climbing and abysmal interpersonal relations.
Meanwhile, writer-director Woody Allen darts back and forth between past and present, interlacing scenes of extravagant privilege with the dawning realities of a midlife meltdown beyond the protective bubble of the Upper East Side.
From the opening moments, in which Jasmine is seen compulsively unburdening herself in an arrivals terminal talking to a stranger her lives events, to later scenes of still talkative park-bench isolation, her increasingly desperate presence (vocal, physical, emotional) barely lets up. Constantly reaching for a drink, her mouth set in a cracked smile, eyes darting with cornered panic, Jasmine fills a room just as she fills the screen. She’s an exhausting character to be with, to watch and, presumably, to play. However Blanchett takes on the challenge head on making the character her own and at no point as a viewer will you be deceived that Jasmine is not Blanchett or vice versa making a real life enactment than acting.
The supporting cast played by Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Andrew Dice Clay etc is top class. Although Blue Jasmine would not be one of the most accomplished works of Woody Allen but the performances are worthy of stand-up-and-cheer ovations all round.
My Verdict: **** Go for it 🙂