In contrast to the majority of Woody Allen’s films over the last decade or so, his latest offering, Blue Jasmine, has gained vast praise from the critics prior to its September 27th UK release date. The film currently holds an impressive 90% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on over one hundred and forty reviews and also has a score of 77 on Metacritic.
Blue Jasmine is Woody Allen’s first film to be set on his home soil since 2009′s Whatever Works, which starred Larry David and was set in New York, although the film was sandwiched in between foreign destinations. This European tour which Allen has recently embarked upon has seen him taking in the great cities of London, Barcelona, Paris and Rome. While a portion of his audience holds mixed feelings over the films that this period has produced, 2011′s mega hit – by Woody standard’s, anyway – was Midnight in Paris, which proved that the filmmaker still has it in him to write and direct a critically-acclaimed that makes money at the box office.
Set mostly in the city of San Francisco, Blue Jasmine is a comedic drama that follows the life of American socialite Jeanette, also known as Jasmine, who is played by Cate Blanchett. She enjoys a comfortable life living in New York with her wealthy husband Harold (Alec Baldwin). Things take a turn for the worse when Jasmine learns that Harold desires another woman and wishes to get a divorce, prompting Jasmine to expose her husbands suspect financial dealings. This results in Harold being locked up and eventually committing suicide whilst in prison.
Distraught, Jasmine decides to start over and moves to San Francisco to live with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), in her small apartment. Like many other Woody Allen films, Blue Jasmine absorbs the theme of adultery, with Ginger embarking on an ultimately failed affair with her lover Al, who is played by the brilliant comic Louis CK. The plot also sees Jasmine being involved in a complex relationship, falling for a rich aspiring politician named Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), but after a turn of unfortunate events, Jasmine is again left alone.
The majority of praise surrounding Blue Jasmine has mostly been aimed at Cate Blanchett, who gives a masterful performance in her portrayal of the lead character. The Washington Post states that the Australian actress “owns this movie,” while Time Out writers “that it’s hard to find another acting performance in any of Allen’s work that is “as affecting and well-judged as the one Cate Blanchett delivers.”
The strong and varied cast of the film also sees Alec Baldwin appear in his second successive Woody Allen picture after last summer’s To Rome With Love. The film also features Andrew Dice Clay and counterculture stand-up Louis CK, who both make their Woody Allen movie debuts.
Blue Jasmine is certainly a far darker film when compared to Allen’s most recent projects, and perhaps it is this overriding and unexpected dramatic theme that has got so many critics lauding the picture. Of course, Woody Allen has given his audience a string of serious films over the years, with complex relationships and immoral desires being examined and explored in works such as September, Another Woman, Crimes and Misdemeanours, and Husbands and Wives.
Blue Jasmine is another example of Woody Allen’s versatile filmmaking abilities, proving that at the ripe old age of 77, the American master can still surprise his critics and audiences alike. Whether or nor Blue Jasmine will hold up against some of Allen’s best work… well, it’s too soon to say. But the overwhelming positive critical response certainly signifies it’s something special.
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