Blue Jasmine; Finally A New Woody Allen film Worth Seeing.

Cate Blanchett in "Blue Jasmine".

Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine”.

After mak­ing a hand­ful of genial come­dies in the ear­ly 70s, Woody Allen shot Annie Hall in 1976. Which was sup­posed to have cen­tred around the comedic fig­ure of Allen. But when test audi­ences respond­ed so warm­ly to the roman­tic chem­istry between he and Diane Keaton, they sched­uled sig­nif­i­cant re-shoots and the whole film was re-edit­ed as a roman­tic comedy.

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen in "Annie Hall".

Diane Keaton and Woody Allen in “Annie Hall”.

And for the next 20 years, Allen made a suc­ces­sion of intel­li­gent, per­son­al, warm and occa­sion­al­ly poignant per­son­al dra­mas, the vast major­i­ty of which were roman­tic come­dies, with the empha­sis, as it always should be, on the Romance. These were inter­spersed with the occa­sion­al pure dra­ma, cen­tred around a series of female protagonists.

Films like Zelig (’83) The Pur­ple Rose Of Cairo (’85), Han­nah and Her Sis­ters (’96) and Bul­lets Over Broad­way (’94), and then Sep­tem­ber (’87), Anoth­er Woman (’88) and Alice (’90). Near­ly all of them were won­der­ful. Man­hat­tan (’79) was a mas­ter­piece. And Crimes and Mis­de­meanors (‘89) a minor one.

But from Mighty Aphrodite in 1995 on, his muse desert­ed him. Sure there was Sweet And Low­down in 1999. And Vicky Cristi­na Barcelona is love­ly to look at.

Vicky Christine Barcelona.

Vicky Cristi­na Barcelona.

But for the last 20 years or so, we’ve all been wait­ing in the vain hope that it might, just might belat­ed­ly return. Or that at the very least, he might slow down and think a bit more clear­ly and care­ful­ly before embark­ing so point­less­ly on his next film.

Incred­i­bly, and to pret­ty much everyone’s com­plete sur­prise, he’s done exact­ly that. Blue Jas­mine isn’t just the best thing he’s done in 20 years, a barbed com­pli­ment if ever there were one. This could com­fort­ably sit with any of those films he was mak­ing in the mid 1980s.

It’s an occa­sion­al­ly rye but most­ly poignant por­trait of a soci­ety woman, Cate Blanchett, who has fall­en spec­tac­u­lar­ly from grace. We move back and forth between the present, and the events that led to her fall in the past, as she tries to pick her­self back up off the floor and start all over again.

Blanchett and Baldwin in Blue Jasmine.

Blanchett and Bald­win in Blue Jasmine.

Whilst not an actu­al adap­ta­tion of A Street­car Named Desire, the film shad­ows Ten­nessee William’s icon­ic play almost scene by scene. And yet curi­ous­ly, far from detract from the film, this mere­ly serves to fur­ther add a sense of doom and foreboding.

All of the cast are foot per­fect. Blanchett, obvi­ous­ly. But Alec Bald­win too, as the Bernie Mad­off type that she was mar­ried to, Sal­ly Hawkins as her sis­ter and Bob­by Can­navale as the latter’s lat­est beau.

Very unusu­al­ly, this is a film that actu­al­ly deliv­ers on all the hype it’s been generating.

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