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Blue Jasmine - DVD Review

Blue Jasmine

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

AS impossible as it may be to sympathise with many of the characters in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, there’s no denying this is a wonderful showcase of acting prowess.

Powered by a terrific central performance from Oscar favourite Cate Blanchett, the film also has memorable support from the likes of Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Andrew Dice Clay, Bobby Cannavale, Michael Stuhlbarg and Peter Sarsgaard.

The film follows the misfortunes of a former New York socialite (the Jasmine of the title, played by Blanchett) whose life has fallen apart in the wake of her husband’s imprisonment for financial irregularity.

The present day finds her forced to relocate to San Francisco and shack up in the rundown home of her sister, Ginger (Hawkins), as well as try and find some form of employment – no matter how ill fitting – to tackle her debts.

Yet Jasmine’s disdain for her new circumstances is palpable and she’ll relate tales of her former life to whoever will listen, even though flashbacks to her socialising reveal a far from happy existence.

Allen’s film is often brutal in the way it exposes the folly of Jasmine’s ignorance, as well as the deterioration of her sanity and pride. Yet Blanchett handles it brilliantly, never really playing for audience sympathy as she fast-talks, drinks and jitters her way to the depths of despair.

Indeed, so compelling is her performance that you may well forget to ponder where Allen expects our sympathies to lie. And it’s perhaps the biggest shortcoming of the film as a whole that it doesn’t really hold any emotional clout.

But Blanchett is nothing if not compelling, and fully deserving of the awards attention being showered upon her, while Hawkins is equally memorable as her put-upon sister – someone with a big heart but a weak mind, who blames her sister (and her husband) for the death of her marriage but who is willing to settle for what life has to offer and be manipulated into bad decisions.

Cannavale is good value as Ginger’s loud and increasingly desperate new boyfriend, Clay excels as Ginger’s bitter ex-husband, Sarsgaard is typically smooth as Jasmine’s possible redemption and Baldwin is suitably smarmy as her incarcerated ex.

Hence, it’s the performances that draw you in and keep you watching. And while you may never root for Jasmine to turn things around and find happiness, you’ll still be blown away by the sheer magnetism of Blanchett’s central performance. It’s that kind of movie.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 98mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: February 17, 2014