Blue Jasmine | Screen | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Blue Jasmine

A great Cate Blanchett performance highlights Woody Allen's new drama


Woody Allen's latest, a drama just lightly brushed with humor, stars Cate Blanchett as Jasmine, the Xanax-popping widow of a Bernie Madoff-style bilker (Alec Baldwin). Evicted from ill-gotten Park Avenue/Hamptons luxury after the law swooped in, bitter, brittle Jasmine seeks refuge in San Francisco with her sweet, working-class sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), whom she'd previously done her best to avoid. Echoes of A Streetcar Named Desire are unavoidable: Ginger, for instance, has a taste for blue-collar guys Jasmine can't stomach. But Allen gets the most mileage from flashbacks juxtaposing Jasmine's cosseted past with her new earthy reality, including an ill-fated stint as a dental receptionist. Blanchett is, as usual, compulsively watchable, as Jasmine navigates post-nervous-breakdown stresses and struggles to keep her lies (to herself and everyone else) straight. The supporting cast — also including Bobby Cannevale and Peter Sarsgaard — is very good. Meanwhile, there's piquant social commentary not only in Jasmine's eventual resort to gold-digging, but also in how this once-privileged woman is always advising everyone else to move on with their lives, even as her biggest sin remains her inability to face herself.