Woody Allen’s characteristics as a filmmaker are uniquely fascinating. The man has an almost endless amount of films for his admirers to plough through, each have their own distinctive elements even if Allen can be accused for his perceived reuse of characters – it’s a fair complaint, the man himself regularly plays the adorable yet over touching lead – but his films are far more unique than that. There is something for everyone. From the more acclaimed romances of Annie Hall to the striking presence of something more ambitious as Match Point (one of his finest) or even the invention of Midnight in Paris (another great film), the man has released a multi-layered, varied amount of work.
Blue Jasmine sees him once again testing himself. Not only does the film utilise the charm of his earlier work, but it also arranges it with a much darker, more hard-hitting tone than I’ve seen him use before. The film follows one of his regular character templates in the high class Jasmine, but the film challenges itself because of the way Allen utilises her lofty life and his imminent decline. We witness the arrogance of Jasmine, whilst we witness her simultaneous fall from grace. It’s quite an extraordinary technique which I’ve seen before with mixed success, here Allen hits it perfectly.
Examining the hatred and selfish nature of Jasmine is extremely intriguing and surprisingly shattering. We should hate this character. She treats her sister like shit – Sally Hawkins excels in the role – but yet we feel a sense of guilt for her rapid downfall. It’s all due to Cate Blanchett’s shattering performance. It’s simply remarkable the way Blanchett becomes Jasmine, providing a sense of dread in her emotion, always remaining true to the prior arrogance of her upper-class self. There are actresses that can do magnificent things with varying use of silence and noise, but a performance like Blanchett’s is not easy to come across. The way she hits the personality of her character is tremendously, moving her face in the most accurate and definitive of ways. She bares all here, letting the character free to express her anger, but also showing her the consequences of her actions.
Even without Blanchett’s work, Blue Jasmine would be a great movie. Its excellent portrayal of class and downfall remains constantly fascinating even if we know how the downfall will occur. Woody Allen does some wonderful things alongside the great character work – Sarsgaard, Schulbarg and Cannavale in particular – including his use of shots and sound. It would, like so many of Allen’s recent efforts, be a disservice to the power of the film to analyse its every move, because it’s a rather unique piece of dream with Blanchett’s towering performance the most exceptional element.