"Blue Jasmine", Woody Allen's latest "return to form" is something of a triumph. As has been pointed out by most reviewers, Cate Blanchett's role seems to owe something to Blanche DuBois, a character Allen referenced, to hilarious effect in "Sleeper". Blanchett plays the financially and emotionally ruined wife of a disgraced Wall Street fraudster who is forced to flee to San Francisco and impose on her somewhat more proletarian adopted sister, Ginger; she is brilliant as the terminally deluded, self-obsessed, pills-and-vodka-addicted title character.
While not strictly a comedy, the film contains numerous comic asides, largely at Jasmine's expense. Perpetually on the edge, she is both victim and villain, and Blanchett and Allen combine to force us to empathise with our anti-heroine, even as we disdain her selfishness. And, as usual, Allen surrounds his lead with an excellent cast - Sally Hawkins (Ginger), Peter Sarsgaard, Alec Baldwin, Bobby Cannavale - even Andrew Dice Clay, one-time objectionable comedian, impresses as Ginger’s bitter ex-husband.
Before the story takes a turn which foregrounds Hawkins' character, Allen's script does come close to being repetitive, as Jasmine constantly tells her story to anyone who she imagines may be listening. The narrative also makes extensive use of flashbacks, which, occasionally, are clumsily signalled. Nevertheless, “Blue Jasmine” is a beautiful piece of work, and it will be a major shock if Blanchett doesn’t join the legion of fine actresses who have been Oscar-nominated for their work in Woody Allen projects.