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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 17, 2013

Blue Jasmine Review: Cate Blanchett The One To Beat As Oscar Best Actress

THE U.S. AWARDS season has started and Cate Blanchett has already won the New York and L.A. Film Critics best actress awards. After watching “Blue Jasmine”, it’s easy to see why she’s the one to beat in the next Oscars. Her role as Jasmine in Woody Allen’s newest film is truly an acting piece, a performance-driven character study of a woman on the edge. It’s the modern version of Blanche Dubois in “Streetcar Named Desire” (for which Vivien Leigh won her second Oscar): a once wealthy woman from New York (Allen’s favorite setting for his works) who had a nervous breakdown and is now trying to turn over a new leaf in San Francisco. She’s poor but still travels first class with her LV luggage to maintain her snobbery.

Cate moves in with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins). She says to a co-passenger on the plane to Sanfo: “She’s not really my sister. She’s adopted. Actually, we’re both adopted.” The first thing she does is to belittle her sister’s apartment and current boyfriend, Chili (Bobby Cannavale), who she says is almost just like Ginger’s working class ex-husband, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay.)

In flashbacks, we see that Jasmine used to be the spoiled wife of a financial wizard, Hal (Alec Baldwin), who was later arrested for illegal business deals and opts to hang himself than to be imprisoned. All their property is confiscated by the government, leaving Jasmine penniless. Even her stepson shuns her, as it turns out she’s the one who tipped the law about her husband’s nefarious activities after she discovered his affairs with various women.

She was confined in a mental clinic for a while and she has no other choice but to move in with Ginger. She finds new romance with a rich diplomatic officer (Peter Saarsgard) who offers to marry her but quickly drops her when he discovers the chain of lies she has concocted to win him. The final scene shows the delusional Jasmine seating on a park bench, talking to herself, scaring another woman who slowly stands up and walks away from her.

Jasmine is not really portrayed as an anti-hero. She’s a character with many layers and we somehow feel compassion for her as she comes out as someone drowning and clutching at straws. She tries to show a brave front but deep inside, she’s sad and desperate. It’s a deeply etched character portrait of a woman steadily losing her sanity.

Cate inhabits the role perfectly and she’s expertly supported by everyone else in the cast, particularly Sally Hawkins as her supportive sister. Cate is Aussie and Sally is British but they both perfectly adopt an American accent for their roles. They both perform first class acts in this film. No wonder Cate is nominated as best actress and Sally as best supporting actress in the Globes. Their performances alone would be enough reason for you not to miss “Blue Jasmine”.