To the long list of actresses who’ve thrived in Woody Allen films, it’s now time to add Cate Blanchett. And in big, capital letters because her spectacularly wrenching performance in Allen’s latest, “Blue Jasmine,” lives up to every bit of hype you might have heard.
As his fans well know, Allen, 77, keeps up the incredible pace of about a film a year and had lately been focusing on frothy comedic fare — the whimsical hit “Midnight in Paris” and the less successful “From Rome with Love.”
“Blue Jasmine,” surely one of his meatiest films in years, finds him in different territory, both geographically — we’re back on U.S. shores — and emotionally, addressing serious issues like the Bernard Madoff financial scandal and its social ramifications.
It’s also a fascinating character study of a woman trying to keep her head above water, financially and mentally, and as such, it’s a clear homage to Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” and his tragically unstable Blanche DuBois. Some might quibble with how much Allen borrows, thematically, from that play. But in such expert and loving hands, do we really care?
Is “Blue Jasmine” an Occupy Wall Street-era morality tale, or just a deeply absorbing character study? Allen has given us a lot to chew on — and a flawed heroine we’ll remember for a long time.
— Jocelyn Noveck,