Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Film review: BLUE JASMINE

Directed by Woody Allen


Blue Jasmine is Woody Allen’s best film since Sweet And Lowdown. But of course: critics have been saying this for years, decades now. Match Point, remember, was Allen’s best drama since Crimes And Misdemeanors. Midnight In Paris, too, was a remarkable return to form and Allen’s best comedy since Hannah And Her Sisters. And so it goes, on and on. However, what I’m saying is that Blue Jasmine is Woody Allen’s best film since 1999. By this director’s standards, 15 years is nothing. His week beats your year.

I don’t know how well the audience I was in the cinema with knew Allen’s past films, but when the screen went black and the lights were switched on, there was an awkward silence that screamed disbelief. It’s not that people wanted more. It’s them not quite realizing that that particular image of Cate Blanchett was the one they would have to go home with. That Woody Allen could cut it off without warning and without a kiss. Even Match Point seemed more upbeat seconds before the closing credits. So, the silence: you can’t wean people off happy endings.

Feeling of sweet despair. Despair – because the story (I believe this to be Allen’s best script in years) doesn’t let in too much light. It does allow for a few hilarious trademark jokes, but you wouldn’t expect many from a painful riches to rags tale. Sweet – because Blue Jasmine gives off so much of that velvety, pleasantly old-fashioned Woody Allen feel. It’s that unmistakable vibe, coupled with substance (there’s nothing remotely fillerish about this film). Allen and bad acting never really went together, and there isn’t a single performance here I could fault. But it’s Cate Blanchett you can’t look away from. She holds the screen tightly and never lets go. She oozes despair, neurosis, tortured feeling, humiliation – often all those things in one scene, one shot. If she doesn’t get every best actress award imaginable, someone has to be blind. 

Blue Jasmine is Woody Allen film #45 (note that I discard What’s Up, Tiger Lily? yet do include the short Oedipus Wrecks and the Herbert Ross-directed Play It Again, Sam onto the list), and out of those 45 I don’t count one I could call bad. Blue Jasmine belongs to the top league, and I really couldn’t care less about the sex abuse controversy.  

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