Director: Woody Allen
Talent: Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Sally Hawkins
Release Date: Currently in Theatres
Ignore the question of whether or not Woody Allen has improved his form, it’s enough to say that this is a very respectable film, powered by well-built performances, particularly that of Cate Blanchett as Jasmine, a down-on-her-luck New York socialite compelled to lean on her blue-collar sister (Sally Hawkins). Having previously raided Bergman, Fellini and Chekhov, Allen here valuably updates Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire” for a post-Madoff era in which the splendor of the wealthy is exposed as pretension and deception. There are lots of laughs, but often they are an amused cringe at the airs and self-deception of Jasmine or a slightly malicious cackle at the demeaning situations in which she finds herself. Ultimately, however, we pity her as much as we ridicule her.
After a lackluster flit around Europe, Allen has found something substantial to sink his teeth into with the humiliations resulting from financial calamities that have befallen the sheltered metropolitan characters who once ranged so carefree in his work. The humour tastes bitter, black and beautiful.
Words by Tony McKiver