'Blue Jasmine': A Portrait of a Fall From Grace

Cate Blanchett stuns in Woody Allen's 'Blue Jasmine," but that doesn't make it easy to swallow.

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Both Jasmine's Manhattan past and Ginger's San Francisco present are over-the-top, comic constructions. Jasmine and Hal's Park Avenue apartment, with its pompous furnishings and hunter green wallpaper, makes a mockery of the elite notions of taste. Ginger, meanwhile, darts around talking and dressing like a 14-year-old, with no ambitions to advance from her career as a grocery bagger. In this sense, "Blue Jasmine" could almost be seen as a satire on the socioeconomic gulf that can exist even between sisters in an America of widening disparity.

However, the engrossing performances of the entire cast (the brilliance of casting Andrew Dice Clay in his small but pivotal role cannot be overstated) makes it hard to treat them merely as caricatures, particularly Jasmine, who Allen never lets up on. In creating a character as enthrallingly shallow as Jasmine, Allen digs a hole too deep for his anti-heroine to crawl out of. See "Blue Jasmine" for this stunning and challenging portrait of a maiden's fall from grace, but be prepared to watch her wallow.

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