07/30/2013 05:47 pm ET Updated Sep 29, 2013

Popcorn Preview: Blue Jasmine

Film: Blue Jasmine (2013)
Cast includes: Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Bandits), Alec Baldwin (30 Rock), Sally Hawkins (Made in Dagenham), Andrew Dice Clay (Pretty in Pink), Bobby Cannavale (Win Win), Louis C.K. (Louie), Peter Sarsgaard (The Killing, Green Lantern), Michael Stuhlbarg (Seven Psychopaths)
Writer/Director: Woody Allen (Annie Hall)
Genre: Drama (98 minutes)

"There's no one like Hal," says Jasmine to her friend in the next seat. "'Blue Moon' was our song... quit BU to marry him... the sex was always great... he taught me real sex... not that I want to get too graphic." Jasmine's "friend" makes a quick escape at the luggage carousel... "I don't know who she is. She was talking to herself, and I made the mistake of answering." Jasmine has never been to San Francisco; now she's at her sister's "just until she gets her feet on the ground"... well, not her real sister... they were both adopted... Jasmine was the one with "good genes." The mortification is palpable as Jasmine, in her white Chanel jacket, pearls and Hermes bag, dragging her matched set of Louis Vuitton luggage, attempts to make herself at home in Ginger's "cozy" little apartment. That's when we see the first of her flashbacks... "So what do you think?" says Hal, showing Jasmine their 5th Avenue apartment. "I love it. You spoil me so!" And there's also the oceanfront house... great for entertaining. Hal's not only rich, sexy and wonderful... he's generous, too... supporting so many charities with big donations.

"Your sister... the one who stole our money!" says Augie. Ginger's ex-husband blames Jasmine, but Ginger believes her sister didn't know. "Quiet, you two!" Ginger's afraid her sister is in no mood for her ADHD boys. Washing down Xanax with vodka, Jasmine cries on Ginger's shoulder... "after the government took everything... the homes, the cars, the furs, the diamonds... I couldn't even pay my rent in Brooklyn!" At least Ginger is letting her stay for a while... "I wasn't sure how angry you still were." Chili, Ginger's new boyfriend, would be living with Ginger now if it weren't for Jasmine's sudden arrival. But Chili tries to make nice... "One minute you're on top of the world; the next you're pffffff." Too bad Jasmine is allergic to the blind date Chili brings along. In fact, Jasmine is allergic to everything about Chili.

As irksome as it is, staying with Ginger, Jasmine isn't moving out anytime soon. She's thinking of going back to school and making something "substantial" of herself. As Jasmine casually ruins everyone else's life, flashbacks fill in the details of her own ruined life. Writer/director Woody Allen has been making films... sometimes 2 a year... since the mid 1960s. We all have favorites... this one is likely to rank high on the list. He's most known for his unique brand of ironic humor. While Blue Jasmine has plenty of irony (with a few chuckles), it isn't a comedy. In fact, there are moments that feel rather like A Streetcar Named Desire. Jasmine... an astonishing performance by Cate Blanchett... is delusional, selfish and tragic, yet we can't help finding her sympathetic. The quirky sister is played wonderfully by British actress, Sally Hawkins. Hopefully, American audiences will be seeing more of her. The two have very little in common, except that Ginger is willing to offer help and Jasmine is willing to accept it... and whatever else she can get. "Another Stoli martini with a twist of lemon."

4 popped kernels (Scale: 0-4)
When her charmed life falls apart, Jasmine's last hope is to reconnect with her estranged sister in San Francisco

Popcorn Profile
Rated: PG-13
Audience: Grown-ups
Distribution: Mainstream limited release
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Cruises comfortably
Visual Style: Unvarnished realism
Primary Driver: Plot & Character Development
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Thought provoking

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