Saturday, April 21, 2018
Things To Do

Review: Blanchett, others shine in Woody Allen's artful 'Blue Jasmine'

By Steve Persall

Times Movie Critic

Jasmine isn't even her name. It just sounds better, more substantial and upwardly mobile than Jeanette, who might be a grocery clerk like her sister. Jasmine was always about moving up, which led to marrying that swindler who pampered her into submission. Now he and the money are gone and there's never enough vodka or meds for handling that.

Fragile and rudely denying it, brittle then broken, Jasmine is a victim of circumstances within her control. Woody Allen understands this sort of woman, although Blue Jasmine is the first time in years that he has articulated it with such attention to intimate detail.

It's a role that Cate Blanchett turns into a marvelous bundle of frayed nerves and quicksilver temperament. Blanchett gets to the heart of the crazy in Jasmine, making a lying, self-absorbed opportunist into a sympathetic creature of extravagant habit. The Persian rug has been yanked from under Jasmine's feet, and she lands with that sister and her middle-class life in San Francisco.

Ginger (Sally Hawkins) and her husband, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), had a brush with prosperity once, winning a lottery jackpot that Jasmine's smooth-talking husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin), lost in a Ponzi scheme. Augie can't forgive, but Ginger has loyalty to a sister who is condescending to her. If you think Jasmine will eventually realize less can be more in life, think again.

There will be her halfhearted effort to find work and slightly more enthusiastic attempts to find men who'll tell her she's beautiful and buy her pretty things. There will be obsessions and confessions and tragedy that, with Allen's touch, lie just on the brink of being funny. This is a spry drama, juggling the timeline of Jasmine's emotional erosion, leaving viewers puzzled, then clued in to what happened and in what order.

Blanchett's brilliant portrait of this lovely train wreck of a woman is surrounded by note-perfect performances. There's class conflict at the core of Jasmine and Ginger's relationship that Hawkins — a charmer in 2008's Happy Go Lucky — expresses with equal parts optimism and desperation. Clay is a minor revelation; who knew he could act or could get such a gig after The Adventures of Ford Fairlane?

A better standup comedian, Louis C.K., shines in a brief appearance as one of the men drawn by Jasmine's beauty and lulled by her lies. Another is Peter Sarsgaard as the man of substance Jasmine desires, yet her escalating psychosis may chase away.

Blue Jasmine is Allen's 44th movie in 47 years, an amazing run with storied highs and notorious lows along the way. This one ranks among his finest dramas, his best since Match Point. That tidy slice of noir topped my year-end list in 2005. Blue Jasmine may do the same this year.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall on Twitter.

 
Comments
RIP Avicii, an EDM superstar who helped break rave culture in America

RIP Avicii, an EDM superstar who helped break rave culture in America

Here's all you need to know about this decade's explosion of electronic dance music in America.In September of 2011, Swedish DJ Avicii played a late-night show at a nightclub on Ulmerton Road in Clearwater.By June of the following year, he was headli...
Published: 04/20/18
Tampa Theatre is showing ‘Reefer Madness’ tonight on 420 Day

Tampa Theatre is showing ‘Reefer Madness’ tonight on 420 Day

The campy gem known as Reefer Madness is screening at 10:30 p.m. tonight at the history Tampa Theatre, a perfect bit of programming on 420 Day. Today's day is 4/20 and it has beeen adopted in some circles as Weed Day because of the numeral code used ...
Published: 04/20/18
Producer and DJ Avicii has been found dead

Producer and DJ Avicii has been found dead

Avicii, the Grammy-nominated electronic dance DJ who performed sold-out concerts for feverish fans around the world and also had massive success on U.S. pop radio, died Friday. He was 28. Publicist Diana Baron said in a statement that the Swedish per...
Published: 04/20/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for April 22

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for April 22

American Stage in the Park: The Producers: Mel Brooks’ classic cult comedy sees a down-and-out producer and his accountant scheme to produce the most notorious flop in theater history. Through May 13. 8 p.m., Demens Landing, 100 First Ave. SE, St. Pe...
Published: 04/20/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for April 21

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for April 21

Kenny Chesney: The tight-jeaned country superstar is making his first return to Tampa in five years and will be joined by country music’s hottest, new act Old Dominion after the release of their sophomore album Happy Endings which debuted No. 1 on Bi...
Published: 04/20/18
Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain talks breakup, reunion, getting sober and returning to St. Petersburg

Underoath’s Spencer Chamberlain talks breakup, reunion, getting sober and returning to St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — HGTV fanatic that he is, Spencer Chamberlain sees a metaphor for his band in the ever-evolving St. Petersburg skyline."When you go downtown and you look at the ONE, that used to be a dirt parking lot," said the singer, referring to a...
Published: 04/20/18
Four new restaurants to try in Tampa Bay

Four new restaurants to try in Tampa Bay

Here's whats new, including a Brazilian steakhouse, Chinese, juice bar and more.
Published: 04/20/18
Freefall reveals 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

Freefall reveals 2018-2019 season with comedies and a pair of musicals

In the coming season, Freefall Theatre is rolling out a world premiere, a different take on Christmas, a sharp comedy and a recent work by Pulitzer winner Lynn Nottage.
Published: 04/20/18
Record Store Day 2018: Your guide to deals, free giveaways and parties in Tampa Bay

Record Store Day 2018: Your guide to deals, free giveaways and parties in Tampa Bay

Here's where to go and what to see for Record Store Day.
Published: 04/20/18
American Stage in the Park is back outdoors with splashy musical 'The Producers'

American Stage in the Park is back outdoors with splashy musical 'The Producers'

Ready for a musical in the park?
Published: 04/20/18