A late flowering for veteran director Allen
In a career spanning more than 50 years, Woody Allen has won four Oscars for direction and writing, and been nominated a further 19 golden times.
He has been equally prodigious in guiding actors to Academy Awards recognition.
Diane Keaton started the run with Best Actress for Annie Hall, then Michael Caine and Dianne Wiest won Best Supporting Actor and Actress for Hannah And Her Sisters, the latter doubling her bag with the same accolade for Bullets Over Broadway.
Mira Sorvino collected her glittering prize for Mighty Aphrodite and, most recently, Penelope Cruz seduced the Best Supporting Actress category for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Cate Blanchett is strongly tipped to join that illustrious list for her tour-de-force portrayal of a cuckolded wife in the emotionally wrought comedy drama, Blue Jasmine.
Blanchett is in almost every frame of Allen’s entertaining film, delivering zinging dialogue with split-second timing and reducing herself to a blubbering wreck as her heroine’s privileged life crumbles after her husband is arrested over dodgy business dealings.
In fragmented flashback we meet Jasmine (Blanchett) inhappier times married to businessman Hal (Alec Baldwin).
She has little time for sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) or then-brother-in-law Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), who unwisely invest a lottery win in one of Hal’s bogus investment schemes.
When Hal is exposed Jasmine’s assets are seized and she heads to San Francisco and her sister’s modest apartment.
The sister’s new boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale) and rival suitor Al (Louis C.K.) fail to impress snooty Jasmine, who must seek “menial work” as a secretary in the office of dentist Dr Flicker (Michael Stuhlbarg).
Then Jasmine meets a handsome diplomat called Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), who has excellent prospects.
“It might be an inflated ego but I think I’d make a good congressman,” he beams, heralding reversed fortunes for the self-obsessed neurotic socialite.
Distinguished by Blanchett’s bleakly funny performance, Blue Jasmine is one of Allen’s best films for some time.
Hawkins offers strong support as a sibling long in Jasmine’s finely tailored shadow, aided and abetted by Cannavale, Sarsgaard and Louis C.K..
Allen’s script is studded with great lines, most of which are gifted to the leading lady as she expertly conveys her character’s gathering downfall at her own manicured hands.
Comedy/Drama/Romance. Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Sally Hawkins, Peter Sarsgaard, Bobby Cannavale, Louis C.K., Andrew Dice Clay, Michael Stuhlbarg. Director: Woody Allen.