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Woody Allen’s back with the divorce “Blues”

The year just wouldn’t feel complete without a contribution from Woody Allen. His pace doesn’t always allow for him to be at his best, but he manages to do it better than most when he gets it right. “Blue Jasmine” is one of the ones he got right and that is a bit more than an understatement.

As the film opens we are introduced to Jasmine Francis (Cate Blanchett), a socialite moving in with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) after her marriage ends in disaster. Specifically, her husband Harold (Alec Baldwin) was a Bernie Madoff type who was arrested before the start of the movie. The story bounces back and forth between scenes of Jasmine’s marriage to Harold and of her trying to survive a mental breakdown in the aftermath.

Cate Blanchett’s portrayal of the slowly disintegrating Jasmine is absolutely mesmerizing. She manages to balance both the comic and tragic aspects of the character perfectly and gets you behind someone who is, to be perfectly honest, kind of a terrible person. There is not a bad performance in this movie. Even Louis C.K. and Alden Ehrenreich, who may only have five minutes of screen time each, provide something substantial to the film.

Of course, even great performances would be weighed down by poor writing. It’s a good thing, then, that Allen’s pen is just as sharp as ever. The dialogue is strong, the story keeps moving and the tone is always appropriate. His direction, as usual, is measured and focused, allowing what is happening in front of the camera to truly shine.

It’s a little too early for top ten lists, but you can expect to hear about “Blue Jasmine” come Oscar time, if not for the film itself, then certainly for Cate Blanchett. If nothing else, it’s proof that age is just a number and that some people just never lose their edge. “Blue Jasmine” is a strong 5 star film.

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