Cate Blanchett is a great actress. But Blue Jasmine is not a great movie. In my humble opinion, it’s not even a good one.
This is an unpopular view. Blue Jasmine received great reviews, and is considered one of the best Woody Allen movies in years. Having recently seen Annie Hall (more on that topic on a separate blog post) nothing compares to old Woody Allen films. Even the middle period has some gems (I am a particular fan of Bullets Over Broadway, in which Chazz Palminteri kills Jennifer Tilly for being a bad actress). Some of Woodoy’s recent movies, including Midnight in Paris, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona), are fun and worth seeing.
And the funny thing about Blue Jasmine was I couldn’t figure out what I didn’t like about it. (I’d never make it as a real critic, don’t quit your day job Alice). Cate Blanchett’s performance is wonderful. Even the way she clutches yet caresses her Birkin handbag is somehow Oscar-worthy. Alec Baldwin is great as Jasmine’s Shyster husband.
My brother Richard figured it out. He said, “Woody Allen can’t write working class characters.” And that is the problem. The story is about a Madoff–like wife who has lost her husband as well as tremendous wealth due to Ponzi fraud. She is forced to move in with her sister, a working class woman in San Francisco. All the working class characters (Sally Hawkins, Andrew Dice Clay, and even much-loved Louis C.K.) are stilted. They’re not funny, they’re not believable. and their scenes drag. And without giving away the story, the arc of the movie is frustrating.
Woody Allen shines depicting educated, affluent, neurotic New Yorkers. In the past several years, his movies have featured these kinds of characters located in European cities for budgetary reasons. When Woody writes what he knows, it works. Blue Jasmine falters when Woody Allen steps out of his comfort zone.
Rating: ** (out of ****)