When we first meet Jasmine (Cate Blanchett), you can tell she's been damaged in some way. So perfectly poised and emotionally manicured, a little time in her company lets us know that something in her past has affected her greatly. She's in San Francisco to move in with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) and her two kids, with the aim of starting off a new life in a new city. We occasionally go back in time to when she was living in New York, married to the rich and successful Hal (Alec Baldwin), but a massive fall from grace looms over their relationship and wealth. Moving on is proving to be difficult, as the full psychological toll of what happened to her in New York has yet to fully hit the newly poor and single Jasmine.
The polar opposite of Midnight In Paris, this finds Woody Allen on form within depression and sadness, and discovering greatness in show-off leading roles instead of a fantastic ensemble. That's not to say that the supporting players here aren't great - Louis C.K., Bobby Cannavale, Alden Ehrenrich, Peter Sarsgaard and Alec Baldwin are all great - but this is very much Blanchett's show. Unlike any role the actress has previously taken on, her Jasmine is so emotionally raw, so entrenched in superficiality that it reveals a certain lack of vanity, and so painfully delusional, it truly is a tour de force of a performance. Hawkins is unfortunately going to get overshadowed by Blanchett's turn, which is a shame as her supportive, loving turn is equally fantastic, but Ginger doesn't come with the theatrics that Jasmine's role requires.
Blue Jasmine plums heart-breaking depths to show what happens to people who realise they've been defining themselves by their partners or their possessions, and the great stuff in life that we allow to pass us by because we think we deserve better. Allen covers the bases by still bringing some dark humour to proceedings, but it can sometimes feel like more of an actor's showcase, with Blanchett and Hawkins totally eclipsing everyone and everything else on offer.
Expect this to be an Oscar-magnet comes awards season.