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dir-scr Woody Allen
prd Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Edward Walson
with Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale, Peter Sarsgaard, Andrew Dice Clay, Louis CK, Michael Stuhlbarg, Alden Ehrenreich, Max Casella, Tammy Blanchard, Shannon Finn
release US 26.Jul.13, UK 27.Sep.13
Jasmine and her sister: Blanchett and Hawkins
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
With his best dramatic comedy in years, Woody Allen makes a potent comment on the recessive economy, which turns the wealthy into whiners while the poor just get on with it. And the vibrant characters, jaggedly observant dialog and messy plot are thoroughly engaging.
After her life in New York falls apart, Jasmine (Blanchett) heads cross-country to live with her sister Ginger (Hawkins) in San Francisco. And it's not an easy come-down from high society with her wealthy husband Hal (Baldwin) to Ginger's humble apartment with two kids and a working-class boyfriend named Chili (Cannavale). Jasmine reluctantly gets a job with a dentist (Stuhlbarg) and sees a glimmer of hope when she meets charming diplomat Dwight (Sarsgaard), who has political ambitions. To impress him, she quietly lies about Hal's crooked business practices and her own past.
Even though she's prickly and spoiled, Jasmine is such a fragile creature that we can't help but hope for the best. Everything is a struggle for her, but we can see her trying, even if it takes a dose of Xanax to get through pretty much anything. Intriguingly, Ginger is just as tenacious, but has an altogether more generous attitude; she can forgive Hal for squandering her future even if her ex (Clay) can't. These women are played exquisitely by Blanchett and Hawkins.
And Blanchett gets deeper layers of complexity as Jasmine's past is revealed in a parallel flashback back-story. Watching her react to everything in this new, much more down-to-earth life is hilarious, and seeing her wobble both mentally and emotionally is deeply moving. Allen's writing and directing slice straight through the character as she prattles on about herself, revealing just as much between the lines. This is a woman unable to create a proper relationship, although she certainly can't stand to be on her own either.
Allen's film is a lacerating look at the American dream, championing earthy, working-class honesty over the thieving schemes of the richest 1 percent. But where it catches us by surprise is in its interpersonal observations about such things as the difficulty of meeting people we can trust, or how some people find it so hard to put things behind them and move on. And in the end, Allen essentially makes us look into a mirror, challenging us to see who the real winners and losers are.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S
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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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