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Column

Attachment and Loss

Blue Jasmine
Produced by Perdido Productions 
Written and directed by Woody Allen 
Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics 

 

Grim.  That’s the first thing to say about Woody Allen’s new movie, Blue Jasmine.  The second is that its lead, Cate Blanchett, gives one of the best performances by an actress since Vivian Leigh played Blanche DuBois in Elia Kazan’s 1951 film adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.  Then again, one could say it’s the best performance since Miss Blanchett herself played Blanche on stage at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2009.

I should add that, as much as Williams’ Blanche depended on the kindness of strangers, so the success of this movie will depend on the kindness of Mr. Allen’s fan club, a loosely federated organization of which I count myself a member.  Strangers to Allen’s work, on the other hand, may find the movie too dismayingly cold to enjoy.  In Vanity Fair, of all places, Bruce Handy has called it Allen’s “cruelest film ever.”  (One wonders what Mr. Handy thinks of Hamlet.)  I agree that the film is chilly, but I think this a virtue rather than a fault.  Allen has undertaken to dramatize the disintegration of a self—an unpleasant...

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