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'Blue Jasmine' modern 'Streetcar'

Movie Review

By Leah Coffman
On September 30, 2013

 

In Woody Allen's "Blue Jasmine," starring Cate Blanchett ("Elizabeth", "I'm Not There") as the titular Jasmine, scandal gives way to denial, shame and lies as a wealthy socialite's privileged lifestyle is ripped away.

Jasmine is married to Hal, played by the smooth-talking Alec Baldwin ("The Departed", "30 Rock"), who is exposed as a Bernie Madoff-esque crook.

Jasmine is left penniless, stripped of the riches and lifestyle to which she's become accustomed, and is forced to move in with her lower middle-class sister in San Francisco, played by Sally Hawkins ("An Education"). 

The dramatic changes take their toll on Jasmine and Blanchett's performance as the shame and denial ridden socialite is stunning as she stumbles through fresh humiliations in trying to find work and love.

Jasmine is plagued by a nervous breakdown and she upends her sister's world because her previously pampered life has left her without any sense of the real world or any marketable skills.

Even as she lies her way through struggles with her new reality, Blanchett keeps Jasmine sympathetic in what is sure to be an Oscar-nominated performance.

The film is darkly comedic, bouncing around in time on either side of Jasmine and Hal's fall from grace.

The haunting ending is deliberately reminiscent of "A Streetcar Named Desire," the immortal Tennessee Williams play.

In 2009 Blanchett appeared as Blanche DuBois, the lead role in a revival of "A Streetcar Named Desire." Other members of Allen's cast have also performed in various revivals of the famous play.

The film's cast's experience with the original source give them the gravitas to stun in the sometimes comedic, sometimes haunting condemnation of class and privilege.


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