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Sunday, February 9, 2014


Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics
DVD Review
2013, 98 minutes
Rated PG-13 for mature thematic material, language and sexual content

Review by Joshua Handler

Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine is by far his darkest film in years and it is also one of his most complex character studies featuring a career-best performance from Cate Blanchett who sizzles as Jasmine, a Blanche DuBois-type who is moves with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins in a moving performance), in San Francisco after her perfect life in New York unravels.

This was my first time viewing Blue Jasmine since last summer and it lost none of its bite with a second viewing.  Woody Allen's films have followed a trend: one positively-received followed by one mixed or negatively-received.  With his last few films, the good movies have been among the best he's made.  With Midnight in Paris, Allen struck a chord with audiences and critics everywhere and the Academy honored him with another Oscar for Best Original Screenplay along with Best Picture and Best Director nominations.  While Blue Jasmine doesn't quite reach the giddy, profoundly brilliant high of Midnight, it is a wonderfully complex character study featuring Allen's usual sharp dialogue.  This one also has a few twists that make it more narratively unique than some of his other films.

So as not to rehash the rest of my glowing review from this past summer, I'll detail the special features on this disc.  There is a short feature featuring interviews with the cast on the red carpet.  It's more of a promotional piece than anything, so it really doesn't lend a huge amount of insight into the making of the film (that isn't to say there aren't a few interesting bits).  Also included on the disc is the trailer and a video recording of an LA press conference.  In both the interviews and the press conference, the actors make a point about how no one, save for Blanchett and Hawkins got the complete script.  The rest of the cast had no idea what was going on in the film.  This explains why everything in the film feels as natural as it does.

Every actor in the supporting cast gives a strong performance.  Hawkins is moving, Bobby Cannavale is strong as a loving brute, and Andrew Dice Clay plays against type as a misunderstood man.  It's a very sympathetic role that he pulls off with great nuance.  His chemistry with Hawkins is very believable.  Louis C.K. also has an amusing supporting turn, as does Peter Sarsgaard.

Overall, this is not a disc to buy for the special features, but for the film itself.  As a piece of filmmaking, Blue Jasmine is efficient (as just about all of Allen's films are) and interesting.  There's something about Allen's films that makes them very watchable and rewatchable.  There is no other director that makes films that I could turn on and watch at the drop of a hat.  Allen's films are simultaneously entertaining and stimulating and even at their roughest, very accessible and digestible.  Blue Jasmine is no exception and will go down as one of the best of his late-period works.

I awarded this film a 4/4 over the summer and wouldn't hesitate to do so again.

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