Woody Allen has always had a knack for playing and creating rich characters who come equipped with their own share of mental psychoses. His latest film Blue Jasmine, has Cate Blanchett playing the title character as a former socialite who lost everything after her husband was caught illegally earning a life of excess. And a film about family dysfunction would not be complete without Jasmine’s own sister, Ginger, played by Sally Hawkins, who had also lost a previous marriage due to events which are directly connected to Jasmine.

Woody Allen has always had a knack for playing and creating rich characters who come equipped with their own share of mental psychoses. His latest film Blue Jasmine, has Cate Blanchett playing the title character as a former socialite who lost everything after her husband was caught illegally earning a life of excess. And a film about family dysfunction would not be complete without Jasmine’s own sister, Ginger, played by Sally Hawkins, who had also lost a previous marriage due to events which are directly connected to Jasmine.

Living in San Francisco, Ginger ekes out a nice living for herself as a single mother with her two sons. Unfortunately, when Jasmine moves in, she brings with her a whirlwind of trouble as Jasmine looks to restart her life, and never hesitates to provide her own commentary, suggesting to her sister that she  marry a “man of substance”.

Jasmine’s previous life is shown in flashbacks, triggered by words spoken by her friends, as she attempts to rebuild her life in San Francisco. The vignettes show a world of luxurious carelessness that is often associated with the super-rich, which contrasts Jasmine’s current status in life. Therein lies the commentary that Allen so deftly sneaks into the film.

The film is as much a triumph in showing the struggles of the middle class, as it is a message that happiness that doesn’t come from large wallets or fancy clothing. Blanchett’s role as a woman whose sanity is precariously balanced by her hope to regain her previous life of ease, is only given more depth when she calms herself as best she can, with her bottle of xanax. Her character is only made even more real by the effects of the rest of the cast’s actions unto Jasmine.

Though it’s hard to find fault in any of the performances, the setting of San Francisco feels underutilized as nothing more than a backdrop. The flashbacks never interrupt, and are timed perfectly apart, without announcing their presence, but are substantial enough to feel as though you’re watching two films at once. As a character driven story, however, Blue Jasmine, is a wonderful work of art.

Running time: 1hr 38min; Rated PG-13

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