Early reviews for Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine indicate that the constantly working director is back with another worthwhile film after last year's mild dud To Rome with Love, and that's thanks a lot to a standout performance from Cate Blanchett.
Allen has returned his focus to interesting women and America in this film, in which Blanchett plays a Blanche DuBois-like fallen socialite, whose husband (Alec Baldwin) was embroiled in some Madoff-esque shenanigans. Blanchett's Jasmine goes to live with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins), who lives a much sparser life in San Francisco. The film—which also stars professional yeller Bobby Cannavale and comedians Andrew Dice Clay and Louis C.K.—relies on a flashback structure to tell the women's story. Streetcar references will be plentiful. That Blanchett gave a remarkable performance as Blanche not too long ago probably didn't escape the attention of Allen, who references the character throughout his film.
Some critics are already singing the film's praises. Justin Chang at Variety writes that it is a "a meaty, fully realized drama that cleverly functions as both an update of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' and a satire on One Percent excess." Meanwhile, Brent Simon at Screen Daily explains that Blue Jasmine "exhibits perceptive dramatic insight with only a leavening pinch of melodramatic inclination, highlighting the gravitational pull of the love one thinks they deserve."
Of course, Blanchett is really the main event here. Chang calls her work "mesmerizing." As does Simon, who also says the "at once refined and unhinged, smug and manic, Blanchett gives a shrewd turn that resonates ever more deeply long after the movie is over."
But some reviews say the rest of the movie tends to fall flat in the wake of Blanchett's formidable performance. Rodrigo Perez at The Playlist explains that the movie "just can’t hope to compete with Blanchett, who feels like she is more deeply committed than the rest of the movie that veers from broad-ish, slight comedy to bleak, depressing drama and back again." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter notes that even the film's flawed plotting in "no way detracts from the dramatic legitimacy and layered texturing of Blanchett's performance." Over at The Wrap, Leah Rozen is harsher, calling it a "mixed bag of a movie."
Even so, no one gives any knocks to Blanchett. We smell an Oscar campaign.