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With a career spanning nearly five decades, Woody Allen has one of the most impressive filmographies of any director working today. Most critics will agree that not every one of his films are great, but when Allen makes a good film, he makes a really good film. Blue Jasmine is not as comedic as some may expect, but with the help of the phenomenal Cate Blanchett, Allen creates a realistic and devastating portrayal of a woman who is desperately trying to keep her life together.

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) seemed to have the perfect life: a beautiful home, a rich and successful husband and a Harvard bound son. Unfortunately, her husband’s wealth was obtained through illegal methods and she is now flat broke. After suffering a mental breakdown, she moves across the country to live with her sister (Sally Hawkins). It is here that she hopes to start her life anew and hopefully achieve something.

Most people would expect a film directed by Woody Allen to be a comedy, but this would be a poor way to describe Blue Jasmine. Sure, the film has comedic moments, but these are few and far between. Instead, Allen takes a more dramatic route in order to portray Jasmine’s downfall. The film is truly heartbreaking at times, thanks to the impeccable Cate Blanchett. Blanchett plays Jasmine both before and after her mental breakdown and the differences in her personality are astounding: Frivolous and shallow, proud and commanding, crazy and strung out, hilarious and heartbreaking. Jasmine is all of these and Blanchett plays her to perfection. I haven’t seen a performance this good in quite some time.

Not to be forgotten, the supporting cast is great as well. Sally Hawkins is terrific as Ginger, a working mother of two who is a stark contrast to Jasmine. It is clear that Ginger’s life is not an easy one, which makes the ungratefulness from her sister all the more frustrating. Alec Baldwin is great as Jasmine’s late husband Hal. Hal is a sleaze ball, but he’s a charming sleaze ball and portraying this character was a balancing act that Baldwin successfully pulls off.

Blue Jasmine is a heartbreaking story of a woman who is just on the edge of losing her sanity. It may not be as light and whimsical as some of Allen’s most recent efforts but his crisp dialogue and smooth camera movements are still there. With a smart script and a powerhouse performance from Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine is a fantastic character study. If Woody Allen can continue making films of this caliber, then I hope that his career will continue to flourish for decades to come.

Blue Jasmine receives 3.5/4 

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