Back in 2009, Woody Allen wrote an instant-classic humor piece for The New Yorker, imaging aman, reincarnated as a lobster, exacting his revenge on Bernie Madoff. Let’s just say that after his new film “Blue Jasmine” that piece, “Tales of the City,” remains Woody’s greatest take on the Madoff affair.
Which isn’t to say there isn’t a lot to appreciate about “Blue Jasmine.” Cate Blanchett is amazing in it, and there are fine supporting performances from Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard, Louis C.K. and (yes) Andrew Dice Clay. It’s also great to see Allen working back in the States again, after a lengthy sojourn to various European capitals.
Blanchett plays the title character, the former wife of a Madoff-like businessman/white collar criminal (Alec Baldwin,) as a sort of 21st century Blanche Dubois, a part Blanchett has played on stage.
Left penniless, she flies to San Francisco to visit her much more blue-collar adopted sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins.) The story toggles between Blanchett’s old life in New York with Baldwin and the present day in San Francisco, as she tries to get back on her feet, first working for a dentist (Michael Stuhlbarg), and then lying her way into a potential romance with Peter Saarsgaard, a diplomat, who apparently doesn’t follow the news or know how to use Google.
Also on board are Clay, of all people, as Ginger’s bitter ex-husband and Cannavale and C.K. as subsequent suitors, all of whom act quite well in the film.
But there’s something a little bit off here. It’s the saddest, most depressing thing Allen has done in years, and it also focuses on contemporary working class characters, which isn’t quite in the director’s wheelhouse.
Much as I love the performances here, the film just generally leaves a sour taste.