Blue Jasmine Blu-ray Review
Jasmine French sits next to an elderly woman on an airplane headed for the opposite coast. She goes on about how she first met her husband and how quickly he swept her off his feet while “Blue Moon” was playing. The one-sided conversation continues in the terminal and then at baggage claim. When the woman grabs her luggage, she says to her husband, “She was talking to herself…But she couldn’t stop babbling about her life.”
Jasmine hops out of the cab in San Francisco and asks, “Where am I, exactly?” Indeed. Jasmine (Cate Blanchett, who won a Golden Globe for her performance and is likely to bag the Oscar) used to be married to a wealthy New York businessman named Hal (Alec Baldwin, who previously appeared in writer/director Woody Allen’s TO ROME WITH LOVE), who eventually went to prison for fraud. With nothing and no one to lean on, she decides to “go west” and live with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins, who earned Golden Globe, Oscar, BAFTA, and Independent Spirit Award nominations for her turn), who is recently divorced from her husband, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay, THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE).
Jasmine has moved on to Stoli martinis and pills, while Ginger has taken to a mechanic named Chili (Bobby Cannavale, HBO’s BOARDWALK EMPIRE). Flashbacks show just what sort of lifestyle Jasmine was used to, as she was showered in fancy jewels, exquisite dinners and a lavish home back in Manhattan. In San Francisco, she’s resorted to grabbing dates with anyone that can save her, like dentist Dr. Flicker (Michael Stuhlbarg, A SERIOUS MAN) and aspiring politician Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard, LOVELACE).
But Jasmine is beyond that, which is sort of the point of the movie. Here is a woman so unraveled that she doesn’t even know when she’s staring off into space or how many glasses of vodka she’s downed. Judging by the final scene (which reflects the opening), it seems like Jasmine will never be able to change.
The issues of Allen’s latest aren’t the same as with some of his other recent lesser works, like TO ROME WITH LOVE or YOU WILL MEET A TALL DARK STRANGER, which didn’t work as the comedies they were supposed to be. Overall, BLUE JASMINE seems unsure what it wants to be: a comedy or a drama. (Is the line “Who do I have to sleep with to get a Stoli martini with a twist of lemon?” comedy or tragedy?) There are a number of serious matters here—depression, alcoholism, mental instability, spousal abuse, etc.—but Allen can’t help but load in the laughs and one-liners. BLUE JASMINE would have worked better as one or the other (preferably the latter). Look at 2005’s MATCH POINT, which went extremely light on jokes (were there any?) and was instead an all-out drama and, as a result, turned out to be one of Allen’s best and most focused films in years. As it is, BLUE JASMINE is an uneven and unconfident effort.
What makes BLUE JASMINE better than what the script really permits is the absolutely stellar cast, led by Blanchett. Like all Allen films, BLUE JASMINE is brimming with familiar names that fill the screen over the opening credits. Hawkins, Cannavale, Sarsgaard, Louis C.K., and even Dice all do their part to add dimension to their characters, no matter how little their screen time.
BLUE JASMINE BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: 2.40:1 in 1080p with MPEG-4 AVC codec. This high-definition transfer of BLUE JASMINE offers a very clean and crisp video presentation, with fine details throughout.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; French 5.1 Dolby Digital. Subtitles in English and French. As is expected with Woody Allen’s films, BLUE JASMINE is heavy on dialogue and light on just about everything else but music cues. Fans will be pleased that the dialogue is audible and clear for the duration while the music comes through with no detectable flaws.
Notes from the Red Carpet (5:52): This featurette combines one-on-one interviews (with Cate Blanchett, Peter Sarsgaard and Andrew Dice Clay) and footage from the red carpet.
BLUE JASMINE Cast Press Conference (24:58): Blanchett, Sarsgaard and Clay sit down to discuss the film, their characters and more.