Rated PG-13 2 stars of 5
“Blue Jasmine” is not my favorite color jasmine, but Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris) made it into a nice little Woody Allen movie… but then, that’s what he does.
I have tried to warm up to Woody Allen, and he is trying…my patience. His recent movies have actually been entertaining and not just another stuttering, insecure, self-loathing monologue delivered by his latest surrogate. I understand this can be an art form layered in nuance, and then it can also just lie there.
The movie opens with Jasmine (Cate Blanchett from Hanna) flying from New York to San Francisco to stay with her sister and get over her crooked ex-husband. Seems she’s had a nervous breakdown and spends too much time talking to herself. This works for Allen, as it allows him to get in twice the muttering – I mean dialogue. We don’t have to wonder what happened to her because we get a flashback scene every seven minutes to explain – in pieces – why her life is in pieces. I am sure this is some kind of French stylistic storytelling device, but I just found it annoying. I can handle the non-linear thing, when it’s done right. In this movie it was like Ping-Pong. The only joy in this is seeing her ex, Hal, played by Alec Baldwin (Rock of Ages).
Blanchett gives an amazing performance of a life unraveling, and the supporting cast of cameos is also stellar. Bobby Cannavale (from Roadie) is a standout as her sister’s boyfriend. There are plenty of wonderful vignettes and endearing moments and lines like, “Having wealth is nothing to be ashamed of.” Allen seems to have the same disdain for the super rich as F. Scott Fitzgerald, but can only whine and obsess about it without making a real point. I should be amused that Hal’s undoing comes when he wants to run off with the teenage babysitter. Seems like Allen is trying to admit something there.
I think this movie is a step back for Allen. I loved “Midnight in Paris” and “Vicky Cristina Barcelona,” as those movies had a powerful story that kept you connected to the drama. With this movie, I felt as depressed as Jasmine and was left with no way to crawl out of the well. Some may say that is master storytelling, but I say he owes me a third act. We all suffer and get down on our luck and do desperate things. When you leave us there, we feel cheated. We don’t need a Disney happy ending, but we do need hope. And I hope Allen gets off this track and brings us a better story next time. Even with the incredible performances, I can only give this movie 2 stars out of 5. That is grading on the Woody Allen scale, and I expected a Woody Allen movie, I just did not get a good one.
Tom Basham is an indie filmmaker.
Here is a link to his movie review site: http://bashmovies.wordpress.com/