31 August 2013

Review: Blue Jasmine

Genre: Drama

Mr. Allen breaks new ground with this dense dense screenplay, following a character almost impossibly rich and perfectly played by Ms. Blanchett. Both appear to be at the heights of their crafts, he wielder of dialogue and interactions so complexly woven and steeped in the traditions of great intimate writing (e.g., Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, 1974; his own Hannah and Her Sisters, 1986) that to misplace any piece would be to fumble a glass chalice and she a paragon of control and expressiveness, furnishing even the smallest clip or aside with just buckets of depth and feeling. They are a wonder together and form what may be the tightest pairing of character with actor that I've seen in years.

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Ms. Hawkins also provides an excellent foil to her character's sister (Ms. Blanchett's role); her quirk and winsomeness are a sincere match to Jasmine's pressure and poise. Mr. Canavale does his role due justice, though falls well short of spectacle, as similarly do Mr. Baldwin, Mr. Stuhlbarg, and Mr. Sarsgaard — all fine in their own respects but rough and unfinished in comparison with the women.

Beyond the actors and the writer/director, the film was dressed beautifully and so communicated that strong sense of place (that a film with this storyline needs) through variations of noise over signal — noise in terms of size, shape, and population of each space. Never did sparsity vs. affective clutter play so well alongside characters in strife.

I'll conclude this brief and glowing review with two final thoughts: (1) The film, while excellent, seemed a tad unsure of its ending, as I had thought that Midnight in Paris (Allen, 2011) had also; and (2) one can't see this clip and not see parallels.

Grade: A

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