Woody Allen's 'Blue Jasmine:' portrait of a lady who loses it all

Thu Jul 25, 2013 9:31pm EDT
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By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - So sharp is the reversal of fortune for Woody Allen's female protagonist in his latest film, "Blue Jasmine," that the Manhattan socialite's possessions are reduced to a faint echo: a Chanel jacket, designer suitcases, a clutch of anti-depressants.

She does manage to retain a regal bearing and a posh accent. But for the most part, Jasmine, played by Oscar winning actress Cate Blanchett, has lost everything including her mind, thanks to her husband's financial and marital misdeeds and her own hapless ways.

After making a number of films in Europe, Allen didn't have to go far to find the inspiration for "Blue Jasmine," which opens in U.S. theaters on Friday. As Blanchett says, after the financial crisis and a string of fraud cases like Bernie Madoff's epic swindle, there are many Jasmines walking the streets of Allen's Manhattan.

"I found the whole story surprising and painful and yet not surprising at all considering what's happened to a lot of people psychologically and financially," said Blanchett.

"You sit in a park and invariably you will see someone mumbling to themselves and sometimes they will be very well heeled."

"Blue Jasmine" is the Australian actress' first film with the prolific director, known for creating memorable female characters like Diane Keaton's Annie Hall. While Jasmine may be memorable, and Blanchett, 44, has received favorable reviews for the role, she is far from being a heroine or even a likeable character.

Rather, Jasmine is a cautionary tale of what happens when a woman builds her life around a wealthy husband, unaware of the house of cards in which she lives.

In flashbacks, Allen serves up sumptuous glimpses of her former life: a beautiful apartment complete with hunter green walls, a vast beach house, elegant dinners in designer dresses. Meanwhile husband Hal, played by Alec Baldwin, takes up with young women and negotiates dodgy deals while Jasmine looks the other way until it all unravels swiftly, leaving her in a heap.   Continued...

Cast member Cate Blanchett poses at the premiere of "Blue Jasmine" at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, California July 24, 2013. The movie opens in the U.S. on July 26. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni