His “Match Point” matches “An American Tragedy” and ”A Place in the Sun,” while Allen’s “Small Time Crooks” follows a little-known 1942 Edward G. Robinson comedy, “Larceny, Inc.,” a little too close for coincidence.
Now, he’s come out with what could be a masterpiece, “Blue Jasmine.” It features a standout performance by Cate Blanchett in the title role of Jasmine French, a once-super rich Manhattan princess, who has lost her wealth and is losing her mind. She escapes from New York to the low-class apartment of her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins), in San Francisco and a world right out of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire.” In fact, at times, “Jasmine” is so similar to “Streetcar” that you wonder whether Woody has written a spoof. Though it is laced with funny flourishes, “Jasmine” is a dead serious dramatic merging of Ruth Madoff and Blanche Dubois. Like Mrs. Bernard “Ponzi” Madoff, Jasmine is a victim of a fraudulent investor husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin), whose comeuppance throws her into a collision with reality. The result is a refined, delicate, damaged woman struggling to keep afloat on Stoli, Xanax and fading memories. She’s an insufferable snob, but you can’t help feeling sorry for her.
Blanchett plays her to perfection, but, after all, she did Miss Dubois at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2009.
“Blue Jasmine” is great Woody Allen, even though he wears his source on his sleeve. I doubt Williams would mind. If “Streetcar” is going to be stolen, it might as well be by the best.