In a career spanning more than 50 years, Woody Allen has won four Oscars for his direction and writing, and been nominated for a further 19 golden statuettes.
He has been equally prodigious in guiding actors to Academy Awards recognition.
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’.
The statuesque Australian actress is in almost every frame of Allen’s entertaining film, delivering his zinging dialogue with split-second timing and reducing herself to a blubbering wreck as her heroine’s privileged life in New York crumbles to its foundations after her husband is arrested for his dodgy business dealings.
In fragmented flashbacks, we meet Jasmine (Blanchett) during happier times married to businessman Hal (Alec Baldwin).
She has little time for her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) or then-brother-in-law Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), who foolishly invest their lottery winnings in one of Hal’s bogus property investment schemes.
When Hal’s exposed as a crook, all of Jasmine’s assets are seized and she is forced to head to San Francisco and move into divorcee Ginger’s modest apartment.
The sister’s new boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale) and rival suitor Al (Louis C.K.) fails to impress snooty Jasmine, who is compelled to 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 a turnaround in fortunes for the self-obsessed neurotic socialite.
Distinguished by Blanchett’s raw and bleakly funny performance, ‘Blue Jasmine’ is one of Allen’s best films on US soil for some time.
Hawkins offers strong support as a sibling who has always lived in Jasmine’s finely tailored shadow, aided and abetted by Cannavale, Sarsgaard and Louis C.K..
Allen’s script is studded with pithy turns of phrase – “Never trust doctors, they put both my parents in early graves” – most of which are gifted to the leading lady as she expertly conveys her character’s downfall at her own manicured hands.
Star Rating: 3½