To view Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine (2013) is to witness a sweaty, babbling and teeth-clenching meltdown of the grandest proportion. The foundation of the story is cemented with the unstable material of Jasmine (Cate Blanchett). A long way from her marriage to a wealthy investment banker and being a well-regarded socialite from New York City, Jasmine now crashes on her younger sister Ginger’s (Sally Hawkins) couch. Jasmine has made her Vera Wang bed, and now she must lie in it.
In Blue Jasmine, every character has a simple need and remains focused on achieving that one desire. Whether it’s a better looking woman, a new purse, a better frolic in bed, most of the characters continuously choose to avoid the truth about themselves and their lives as long as they get what they want. This is true with the exception of one character: Ginger’s ex-husband, Augie (fabulously performed by Andrew Dice Clay), who is the only one who remains true to his virtues. Good fortune gave him an opportunity and he selflessly trusted Jasmine, only to have his life ruined.
Suffice it to say, Woody Allen does not portray women in the most virtuous light. It appears to be a recurrent point, as each female character is either too narcissistic, conniving, or unfaithful to ever be trusted. However, you never stop being interested in whether Jasmine can grow out of her pampered shell or if Ginger will finally wake up and boot her to the curb.
Apart from the women, all supporting actors are men who provide appropriately subdued and lax performances allowing Jasmine to be over the top and exuberant. Each of these performances – including Louis CK, Alec Baldwin, and Bobby Cannavale – are keen in execution, but performed in a subdued manner. In sum, this mix of genuine and bat-ass crazy performances counterbalance each other to provide an unusually mental experience – you’ll be sure to see a couple of these names on the year-end awards show banners.