Cate Blanchett's Jasmine is a woman on the verge of a mental breakdown. Formerly rich and still haughty, the film starts with Jasmine babbling about her plight to a woman on an airplane as she's traveling to San Francisco from New York to live in utter poverty with her sister. As the movie moves forward, the entire story is spilled to us via different characters.
Or in this case, different victims of her nonstop, self-absorbed patter. In the meantime, Jasmine is working overtime to find a way back to her former glory and works a number of angles to get there.
Blanchett is supported by Alec Baldwin as her Ponzi-scheming husband. The film also features excellent work from Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Sarsgaard and Andrew Dice Clay.
Why Blue Jasmine is so good starts with Blanchett, who digs into Woody Allen's meaty script. It is Allen's -- pick one, two or all three -- take, tribute or version of Tennessee Williams' classic play A Streetcar Named Desire. No matter which one you pick, the film is exceptional, and it's the best the Woodman has been since Sweet and Lowdown in 1999.
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It's also the best Blanchett has ever been. After years of decent but not great parts, Blanchett -- sounding a lot like Williams' Blanche -- does Jasmine like a woman who's been dieting on nothing but cottage cheese and crackers for months. Mood changes are powerful, intense and instant, and her always exceptional acting is ratcheted up several notches.
She's an amazing actress and all agree, very talented. Unless something comes up that can top her Blue Jasmine performance -- and that's very doubtful -- Blanchett is going to clean up big time at the awards given out at the end of the year.
So will Blue Jasmine.
Director: Woody Allen
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Sarsgaard, Andrew Dice Clay
Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It is playing at the Carmike 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.