Manuel Betancourt

Blue Jasmine, or How “This song was playing when we first met…”

February 2, 2014 · in Film, Oscars

Top 8 - Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine

Directed & Written by: Woody Allen
Starring: Cate Blanchett, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin, Andrew Dice-Clay, Bobby Canavale.

3 Oscar Nominations
Actress in a Leading Role (Cate Blanchett),  Actress in a Supporting Role (Sally Hawkins), Writing – Original Screenplay (Woody Allen)

“This song was playing when we first met…”

Cate Blanchett’s recurring line (and the various inflections she offers whenever she’s called to utter it in settings as disparate as a first-class airplane seat, a dingy diner and an elegant dinner party) is the thing iconic cinematic characters are made of. Jasmine (née Jeanneatte) may be cut from the same cloth as Tennessee Williams’ most famous belle, Blanche DuBois (a role Blanchett herself played a few years back with the Sydney Theatre Company), but she’s a character that doesn’t seem derivative. This is the strength of Blanchett’s performance. While Allen’s screenplay calls for a sketch of a waif of a graduate student turned elitist New York socialite who is unable to psychologically cope with her crumbling worldview (let alone shrinking bank account courtesy of her swindling husband), Blanchett’s subtle twitching movements, her furiously darting eyes and her increasingly thin voice make Jasmine archetypal. Her fall from grace takes place within the confines of what Twitter might term #whitepeopleproblems with a certain willful, if necessary, bracketing of the larger social, racial, cultural and financial contexts in which Jasmine’s descent into madness takes place — her story after all shuttles from one bastion of urban inequality for another. Yet, Blanchett’s performance plays this story as a Greek tragedy; that is, if Greek tragedies featured protagonists whose Xanax don’t quite kick in when they’d like them to. B+