An Unhappy Story
Fans of Cate Blanchett may be the only ones who might want to take in Woody Allen’s newest film Blue Jasmine. Why? Because the movie features a mediocre story told many times before and a gloomy tone that rarely reaches comedy status as the film proclaims.
Blanchett plays Jasmine, a New York socialite born in France who leads an easy life because her husband Hal (Alec Baldwin) is a successful businessman. However, it’s not long into the film before Jasmine discovers Hal is more involved in monkey business – being unfaithful with almost every woman he comes in contact with – than in his real business.
Finding herself broke and with little job skills, Jasmine decides to ask her estranged sister in San Francisco if she can stay with her for a while. Ginger (Sally Hawkins) doesn’t approve of her Jasmine’s constant drinking and reliance on anti-depressants. She also detests Jasmine’s relentless put down of Ginger’s new boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale). Jasmine claims he’s yet another “loser” like Ginger’s ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay).
With the sisters at odds, Jasmine looks for a job and finally accepts one as a dental assistant. The married dentist (Michael Stuhlbarg) begins to come-on to Jasmine. This scene ends up -- like many in the film – feeling forced. Jasmine acts as if she’s swatting a fly instead of pushing away a man who grabs her and hopes to do more.
As the sisters continue to quarrel, Jasmine thinks she will get her share of money from Hal’s business, but that glimmer of hope explodes when he’s sent to jail for Ponzi schemes. (Sound familiar?) Not only does Jasmine lose her own rightful funds, Ginger and her ex lose the investment funds they gave to Hal as well.
Jasmine finally meets a man she thinks is the love of her life. Wealthy diplomat Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard) seems to be everything Jasmine wants to put her back in the world where she believes she belongs.
Even though Blanchett wraps her talent around this character, it’s one we find little to care about. Jasmine comes across as a “me-me-me woman” who’s hardly aware of others around her. The ever-smiling Baldwin looks like he does in those credit card commercials. Hawkins, Cannavale, Dice Clay, and Sarsgaard perform well, as their characters have depth. But really, open a few suburban doors and we’ll see these same scenarios. So do we want to go to the movies and watch them on the big screen? Not me.
The dialogue also annoyed me -- which happens so much with Allen’s films. It’s an up-and-down rhythm that sounds the way Allen talks. And the disappointing plot feels pulled together from the tabloids. It lacks imagination.
(Released by Sony Pictures Classics, and rated “PG-13” for mature thematic material, language and sexual content.)
Review also posted at www.reviewexpress.com.