Brian Henry Martin at the movies

Woody's Blue Movie

Published Thursday, 26 September 2013
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He has the audience attraction of marmite, who either love or hate his work. So sadly, the fact that Blue Jasmine is a Woody Allen film may put some people off seeing it.

This would be a great shame, as it is one of the best films of the year.

Blue Jasmine is a wonderfully fresh boom and bust drama with two very different but engaging sisters experiencing the highs and lows of love and loss. Cate Blanchett plays Jasmine, an elegant Manhattan socialite who is left completely depressed and penniless when her marriage to super-rich but shady businessman Hal (Alec Baldwin) falls apart.

She tries desperately to get her life back together, but finds herself falling into the traps of alcohol and anti-depressants. So with nowhere else to go, she flies to San Francisco.

"My plan is to start a new life out here," she tells a disinterested fellow passenger, "Go west!" But what that really means is going downmarket as she is forced to move into the spare bedroom of her blue-collar sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins).

Here, Jasmine is confronted by the reality of her shameful slide and the fact that her crooked former husband also stole her sister's savings too. "When she had all that money" yells Ginger's ex-husband Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) "She wanted nothing to do with you. Now she's broke, she's moving in."

The smartness of this script is not to be overlooked as Woody Allen reveals the tragic events with clever flashbacks evoked by Jasmine's own sad thoughts. Flitting between the extravagance of her former life and her undignified current climb down allows for a entertaining and insightful look at the depression of recession. There are of course, a few great Woody one-liners but the mood is blue.

Cate Blanchett gives a gargantuan performance as the dazed and confused Jasmine, creating a modern day Blanche DuBois, the deluded heroine of Tennessee Williams classic A Streetcar Named Desire, who always relied on the kindness of strangers. "Anxiety, nightmares and a nervous breakdown" Jasmine explains, "there's only so many traumas a person can withstand until they take to the streets and start screaming."

Proving to be the perfect foil is Londoner Sally Hawkins, who's financially injured Ginger is craving passion not riches. Allen has a unique aptitude for female characters and also startling performances; Diane Keaton, Dianne Wiest and Penelope Cruz have all garnered Oscars under his direction. Expect Blanchett, Hawkins and the supporting players to all feature in future nominations. Alec Baldwin is perfectly cast as Hal, "the bad guy who lived like a big shot on other people's money", as is Peter Sarsgaard as silky Dwight, Jasmine's potential knight in shining armour and only real hope of an escape.

Tony Bennett may have famously left his heart in San Francisco but director Woody Allen has found a great new film in the city by the bay. Blue Jasmine is not to be missed.

Blue Jasmine (Cert 12a) is released on Friday 27th September

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.


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