Written by / 8/02/2013 / No comments / , , , , , , ,

CATE BLANCHETT IN WOODY ALLEN'S BLUE JASMINE

year: 2013 rating: ***
Anyone who's seen Woody Allen’s science-fiction comedy SLEEPER will know he’s a fan of, or completely aware of, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE... But the scene where Woody Allen, Diane Keaton and John Beck imitate the DESIRE cast around a dinner table, set in the middle of a forest, isn’t exactly meant to be serious.

So forty years later, Allen revamps the classic film based on a Tennessee Williams play, with Blanche Dubois now channeled by Cate Blanchett as Jasmine, who, as we begin, rambles to perfect strangers and has to live in a low-rent apartment with her sister (both were adopted), Ginger.

Sally Hawkins is the Kim Hunter earthy girl saddled with two Marlon Brando types: a surprisingly serious (and dramatically competent) Andrew Dice Clay as Augie, Sally’s unlucky husband in the backstory and Bobby Cannavale as her blunt boyfriend in the present time, where most of the story takes place.

The flashbacks center on a high-class Jasmine, married to Alec Baldwin’s Hal, a multi-millionaire who, as told in the present story, turned out to be a womanizing thief. In this now-reality Jasmine has no money: popping pills with endless martinis, she must “lower” herself to exist among common human beings.

Dice Clay
Blanchett does a good job as the main/title character, although during her sporadic self-mumbling breakdowns, the tone of the film, an entertaining drama with funny moments, feels awkward and stagy.

The best scenes have Jasmine trying to survive as a normal person, working menial jobs with the subliminal goal of finding a decent male companion. Although Allen provides a woman so oblivious, it’s difficult to tell if she’s someone to partially root for or completely pity. And a lot of the characters, including Sally and her swarthy companions, often seem like clichés, constantly repeating how much they do or don't have in the bank.

On a more grounded level is Peter Sarsgaard’s Dwight, the Karl Malden too-good-to-be-true nice guy, providing a beacon light for Jasmine but with a price… And that price is what BLUE JASMINE ultimately strives for…

With a performance more reminiscent of Gena Rowlands in A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE and/or Sally Kirkland in ANNA than the wonderfully overboard Vivian Leigh role, perhaps this could have made a much better underdog story than a class-based morality tale...

Or maybe Cate Blanchett’s character deserved more of an arc than a treadmill, and the "kindness of strangers" wouldn't have hurt.
SLEEPER with Allen, Keaton & John Beck parodying A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
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