Blue Jasmine Blu-ray Review
Some of the greatest moments in cinema history have been because of the
work of writer/director Woody Allen, a true auteur of the medium, who
has recently undergone something of a creative resurgence (not that he
ever lost his touch as a storyteller). The latest effort of the
filmmaker is Blue Jasmine, a
dramatic work that stars Cate Blanchett in one of her most impressive
roles to date and which has become of the most successful films in both
Blanchett and Allen's careers. The praises have been well earned as Blue Jasmine is terrific filmmaking
and is one of the best works of 2013. It's an essential film that is
worthy of great consideration for its artistic merit.
The story of Blue Jasmine is
in some ways a modern update on the famous play A Streetcar Named Desire. Blue Jasmine has already drawn
numerous comparisons to the Tennessee Williams play in this regard.
Regardless of whether or not the play was an influence, the intelligent
and emotionally resonant writing is amongst Allen's absolute best
efforts to date. There is a abundance of rewarding dialogue,
characterization, and wit in this latest effort and it can seemingly
flow with relative ease through its ingeniously layered story that
flashes back: exploring the characters stories in both the past and the
The main character of the film, Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) is accustomed
to living a status with an abundance of wealth that she had obtained in
her supposed paradise. Yet she loses it all when her enormously rich
husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin) is jailed for dealing with illegal money.
Jasmine is now homeless and a last resort is to go to her sister Ginger
(Sally Hawkins) for help as she seeks a new beginning in San Francisco.
This is quite the situation as Ginger had previously been in a
relationship with Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), and it was a relationship
which ended badly when both of them lost a fortune that was won when
they invested all of their enormous winnings with Jasmine's crook
First and foremost, Blue Jasmine is
a film which seeks to explore the character of Jasmine. The character
is faced with the distance between her dreams and her current reality.
The role is a complex, complicated one with a lot of layers. As the
storyline unfolds, the character does as well and everything about the
performance by Blanchett aids the characterization that is found in the
story and script. Without a doubt, this is one of the best performances
of the entire year and certainly one of Blanchett's most impressive
moments. Her impeccably nuanced performance brings an incredible depth
to the part. She manages to be both nerve-wracking and sympathetic,
simultaneously, and deeply so. This is Blanchett at her absolute best.
As the story unfolds, Jasmine seems to teeter back and forth with her
attempt to begin anew under the acceptance of her current situation and
with holding on to her more glamorous past. The story follows Jasmine's
attempts at finding a job and going to school while also addressing the
relationship issues between her and her sister, whom were both adopted
and not "technically" related as the characters are sure to point out.
Jasmine is also a vocal critic of Ginger's romantic relationships and
the film explores this issue in both the past and present. In the
present Ginger's engaged to Chili (Bobby Cannavale), who is a mechanic,
is one that Jasmine quickly frowns on. Despite the issues the two
sisters have had together, Ginger seems to want to seek her approval
and she becomes drawn to a new man, Al (Louis C.K.) as a lover she
meets at a party Jasmine takes her to. Jasmine is hoping to find
someone to be with herself, and she may have found a perfect match in
the form of Dwight Westlake (Peter Sarsgaard), who is a wealthy
diplomat desiring to run as a politician. He's wealthy, handsome, and
wants to be with Jasmine. Yet something is still amiss. The film
continues to unfold the journey of Jasmine and the plethora of
characters that inhabit her world.
The acting from the supporting cast is uniformly impressive throughout.
I was really amazed by everyone's contributions. Alec Baldwin is of
course perfect at playing the unquestionably slick and ick aspects of
his character. Andrew Dice Clay is surprising and sympathetic in his
small part that adds a great deal to the storytelling. Sally Hawkins
aids the performance of Blanchett and is electrifyingly good with her
dynamic part. I would rank the performance shes gives in Blue Jasmine
amongst her best. Bobby Cannavale adds a quietly humorous element that
is surprisingly effective and when you least expect for it to.
This was a wonderfully produced effort. It has splendid cinematography
by Javier Aguirresarobe that is vibrant, colorful, and eye-catching
while also adding a sense of realism. With production design work by
Santo Loquasto, Blue Jasmine
manages to also feel true at presenting both the upper class lifestyles
and world inhabited by the characters in stages of the film and
contrast these moments with the everyday qualities of struggling,
middle-class lifestyles that are the present realities for Jasmine and
most of the cast of characters. The photography and design work is also
aided by the splendid San Francisco locations utilized throughout
filming that ultimately adds a sense of authenticity.
There is no doubt that Woody Allen is the maestro of this work of art
at each and every corner of the film's production. From the detail and
depth of the screenplay to the perfectly realized direction, Blue Jasmine is the work of one of
the world's best filmmakers as he is bringing his absolute best to the
table in making the film. Besides bringing forth amazing
performances from the entire ensemble cast, Allen also manages to
delicately pace the film with a sense of believability and character
fantasy. And it manages to all happen within the framework of a
relatively brief 98 minute run-time. Add in the final touch of some of
Woody's favorite jazz pieces for the accompanying soundtrack and you
have a dynamite film that is simultaneously thoughtful, dark, and
fascinating from beginning to end.
Blue Jasmine is presented on
Blu-ray in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 with a 1080p
High Definition MPEG-4 AVC encode that presents the work with high
bit-rates, splendid depth, and good color reproduction. The
cinematography is beautifully rendered with this astonishingly high
quality transfer that ranks amongst the best to date for any Woody
Allen film released on the format.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio has a splendidly rich and detailed lossless
encoding that will be satisfactory for audio's most ardent fans.
However, the aspect of it being in "surround sound" is somewhat
stretching. Woody Allen generally doesn't like surround sound in film
and as a result the sound mix crafted sounds more like a stereo mix
that only occasionally features some slight surround usage that is
altogether minimalistic in implementation. As long as expectations for
a surround experience are kept in check the lossless audio boost is
dynamic and should sound more than satisfactory for Blue Jasmine.
This release contains two main supplements: Notes from the Red Carpet is a
short featurette offering interviews with cast members and a Blue Jasmine Cast Press Conference
offers up something a bit more in-depth with a discussion with some of
the cast members, including Blanchett and Sarsgaard.
This release also contains a Digital HD Ultraviolet digital copy that
can be streamed or downloaded.
Blue Jasmine is one of the
best films of the year. If you consider yourself a fan of great cinema
this is an amazingly realized work of art that is absolutely worth your
time. It is easily one of Woody Allen's best films to date (which is
really saying something quite remarkable as I'd estimate most of his
output as being brilliant).
The performance by Cate Blanchett is amazing and should make her a
surefire contender to win the Best Actress award at the Academy Awards
this year. Blanchett has already won a Best Actress award for playing
the part from the Golden Globes and she seems likely to win again with
the Academy voters. Blue Jasmine
represents remarkable work from everyone involved and it's an
undeniably emotionally resonant film. Filmgoers who enjoy fine
storytelling and craft will find something special to appreciate about
this intelligent effort that is first-rate in every regard.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.