Jasmine, a wealthy NYC woman, loses her social position and most of her money when her husband is arrested for securities fraud. She moves in with her decidedly down-market sister in San Francisco, and quickly comes to despise her sister’s boyfriend, who likes to hang around in sleeveless undershirts. The similarities to A Streetcar Named Desire end there. Jasmine is no Blanche Dubois — more enraged tiger than wounded bird. She is mentally unbalanced, all right — but her problems are all of her own making. The “story line” of this movie, such as it is, comes through over gradual understanding of Jasmine’s complex mental state. It’s extraordinarily well done — Streetcar done right.
You have the usual excellent script by Woody Allen — whatever you think of Allen’s personal life, few writers since Tolstoy have understood a woman’s interior life so well. Cate Blanchett was an inspired choice, and her performance of a woman at once a tough-minded realist and an insecure fantasist deserves all the accolades it’s been getting. There is the usual strong supporting cast — Bobby Cannavale, Sally Hawkins, Alec Baldwin. (Note that despite the appearance of comedians Andrew Dice Clay and Louis CK, this is not one of Allen’s funny movies.) And the streets of San Francisco are actually shot in San Francisco, not Toronto or a Hollywood back lot — although he must have waited weeks for that shot of the Golden Gate Bridge without fog.
Parental Advisory: There’s nothing here a kid couldn’t see, but younger kids would probably be bored. Teenagers interested in human relationships might like it.