Blue Jasmine @ The Ross

Cate Blanchett as Jasmine

Cate Blanchett as Jasmine

Woody Allen has hit a nerve in his film Blue Jasmine, and that nerve is in the vein of Tennessee Williams’s story A Street Car Named Desire. Jennifer oh, er, excuse me, Jasmine (played by Cate Blanchett) arrives in San Francisco on the doorstep of her sister, Ginger (played by Sally Hawkins) in an attempt to put her life back together (or what’s left of it) after her husband Hal’s (Alec Baldwin) suicide in jail. Jasmine and Hal were the elite of New York socialites only to find their world torn apart by divorce, infidelity, and the discovery of a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme ran by Hal.

Jasmine and Hal (Alec Baldwin) in New York

Jasmine and Hal (Alec Baldwin) in New York

As does Tennessee Williams, Allen explores what happens to a person’s psyche once she has been excommunicated from the very entities and people that made her the ‘who’ of who she is. Yes … sigh Jasmine has had a great fall, and all of Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Carolina Herrera cannot put her back together again. It is interesting that Allen moves out of his beloved New York and settles Jasmine in San Francisco, the leading financial and cultural center of northern California, for her to attempt to put together her emotional and psychological pieces. Allen’s lighting choices of highly saturated primary colors and complementary colors underline the pathos of Blue Jasmine in cool San Francisco. Allen, however, contrasts the experience with soft hues when he cuts to New York to show Jasmine and Hal at the top of their high society game. The flashbacks make for a very razor sharp viewing experience.

Jasmine arrives in San Francisco

Jasmine arrives in San Francisco

Blanchett’s performance is as a marionette lacking some of its strings and controlled by an inebriated manipulator or puppeteer. It’s a bothersome psychological dance, and Blanchett would have done well to consider a crescendo rather than a knee-jerk move into her psychosis. Kudos to Andrew Dice Clay, who plays Ginger’s ex-husband Augie. Clay’s Augie carries a controlled but haunting financial defeat after taking investment advice from Jasmine and Hal.

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Blue Jasmine plays through September 13 at The Ross in Lincoln.

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