Blue Jasmine differs in two important ways from most of Woody Allen’s other recent films. The first difference is that the film does not primarily have comedic intentions; although it has many moments of humor, some of them sure to elicit roaring laughter from the viewer, it is a drama filled with tension. The other difference is that it is actually a great film.
Though not a thriller like his 2005 film, Match Point, which involved adultery and murder, Blue Jasmine has its fair share of suspense, which is the product of a very careful balancing act between the past and the present. Allen constantly flashes between the current state of affairs, when Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) is sharing a tiny apartment with her sister in San Francisco, and the past, when Jasmine was living a life of vast riches for more than a decade with her businessman husband Hal (Alec Baldwin).
In the film’s very first scene, we find Jasmine in a first-class seat talking the ear off the passenger next to her. At first, she seems to be talkative, but as the scene progresses from airplane to airport terminal to baggage claim, and Jasmine doesn’t let her interlocutor get a word in, we realize she is delivering a monologue and is entirely self-obsessed.
In fact, at many points in the film she doesn’t even need an ear to listen to her; she is content to simply deliver her speeches or comebacks, many of them in response to characters or situations from the past, all on her own.
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(Still of Alec Baldwin and Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine. © 2013 – Sony Pictures Classics)