By Dave Montalbano
While best known for her Oscar-winning leading role in Gone With The Wind, Vivien Leigh earned her second Oscar as Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.
A reliable British actress on both stage and screen, Leigh’s award-winning performances created an indelible image of a young and aged Southern belle.
Last Sunday night, Australian actress Cate Blanchett earned her second Oscar for playing a DuBois-inspired character in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. While Jasmine (Blanchett) is no Southern belle, she does suffer from similar delusions with that of Blanche Dubois.
The film opens with Jasmine flying into a San Francisco airport to spend time with her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins). During the long flight, Jasmine annoys the people around her with constant chattering. We learn that the selfabsorbed Jasmine was once married to a Bernie Madoff-like character, Hal (Alec Baldwin), a successful money manager. Being a trophy wife, Jasmine lives a charmed life in the Hamptons, while ignoring Hal’s indiscretions.
Blue Jasmine shares DNA with A Streetcar named Desire. In a way, the travails of Blue Jasmine seem to be the back story of DuBois. After enjoying the debutante’s life for so long, both women’s fall from grace is tragic to watch.
While his family scandals from 21 years ago are still vivid, there is no denying that Woody Allen is a very literate filmmaker. When inspired by the literary masters. Woody Allen’s humor is at its sharpest … with films like Hannah and her Sisters influenced by Chekhov’s 3 Sisters and Crimes and Misdemeanors influenced by Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment …
The Woody Allen ensemble of New York actors (Alec Baldwin, Bobby Carnvale) are appropriately cast. Best Supporting actress nominee Sally Hawkins provides the most transitional performance as Jasmine’s sister. Yet, Blue Jasmine is Cate Blanchett’s movie from beginning to end. Jasmine is an unlikeable character, but Blanchett creates a unique sympathy for the fallen woman.
Oscar season is now officially concluded, but a new season has begun. The Miami International Film Festival opens this weekend with 100 films from 40 countries. Of note, the 2013 Oscar winner for best documentary, 20 Feet from Stardom, premiered at the Miami International Film Festival last year.