One Woody Allen movie after another displeases me, but not the latest one: Blue Jasmine (2013) is a triumph. A minor, imperfect triumph, but a triumph nonetheless.
Its power lies in its tragic elements, its dolorous drama. Here, to lose one’s money and a spouse’s fidelity, as Cate Blanchett’s Jasmine does, is to lose emotional stability. Happiness is fragile; this is owing not only to the follies of others but to Jasmine’s folly as well. Yet the mildly bright cinematography of Javier Aguirresarobe—there are dollops of humor in the film too—suggests that life is not all bad or distressing.
The film revolves around “what Mr. Allen imagines to be the American class-divide,” as critic James Bowman put it. Those are my italics: some of what Allen exhibits is merely his imagination, nothing more. Blue Jasmine, even so, is dramatically sobering and Allen has gotten better at penning dialogue. Blanchett is brilliant at showing us a woman who is fighting for her sanity, sometimes repellent but clinging to her dignity. Andrew Dice Clay and Bobby Cannavale purvey the most lived-in elan, while Sally Hawkins is fascinatingly animated and cute as Jasmine’s sister.