Friday, February 28, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Blue Jasmine (2013) **½

PG-13, 98 min.
Director/Writer: Woody Allen
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay, Michael Stuhlbarg, Max Casella, Kathy Tong, Annie McNamara, Tammy Blanchard, Daniel Jenks, Max Rutherford

Does Cate Blanchett deserve her Oscar nomination as the frontrunner favorite for her performance in the leading role of Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine”? Most certainly. Does Sally Hawkins deserve her long shot nomination for Best Supporting Actress? I think so. Does Wood Allen deserve another Original Screenplay nomination? I’m not so sure. Certainly the Blanchett character is very well written. So, perhaps the problem lies in Allen’s direction, but something about this movie left me cold.

This is not one of Allen’s comedies. It is a drama, but it somehow seems to be approached directorially as one of his comedies. It seems light on approach, and never seems to carry the weight of its dramatic themes. It deals with a woman who is going through a severe nervous breakdown. Despite Blanchett’s wonderful performance of that breakdown, the movie never seems to take her breakdown seriously. It could be a comedy, but Allen doesn’t seem to be going for that either.

The rest of the supporting cast also does a wonderful job. Andrew Dice Clay makes a bit of a comeback as Hawkins’ ex-husband, and he’s perfect for the role. Alec Baldwin continues his subtle but important contributions to Allen’s work. Peter Sarsgaard plays against type, although it doesn’t appear so at first. And Louis C.K. continues to tease audiences into wanting to see more of him.

Despite all this, the movie never quite works. It never makes me care enough about its tortured and fairly unlikable protagonist. It never contemplates her problems as deeply as they seem to require. Her sister (Hawkins) is in many ways the more interesting character, if only because we care about what happens to her because her relationship problems are questioned a little more prominently than Blanchett’s. It’s been a while since Allen has disappointed me as a filmmaker. “Blue Jasmine” is a good effort, but never quite gets there.

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