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EVEN Woody Allen's long career was more than a decade away from starting when Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando were starring in an adaptation of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire (1951).

Blue Jasmine has similar sharply scripted themes of sisters and unsustainable lifestyles, freshened up by our own struggles in today''''s post-credit crunch world.

Intermittent flashbacks flutter around like leaves in autumn and the action is fragmented between New York and San Francisco, but Allen is clearly relishing the United States again after so many European adventures.

And he's captured an Oscarcontending, tour de force performance from the great Cate Blanchett, too.

Suddenly forced to think on her feet as the cuckolded wife of businessman Hal (Alec Cate Blanchett Oscar-worthy Baldwin), Jasmine isn't even capable of realising that when times are tough first class travel is a luxury too far.

Not that money is everything. Her sister Ginger is much less well off but also faces problems with more than one man.

It's great to see British star Sally Hawkins back in the form she showed in Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky (2008), her presence much puts in an performance more natural than Gemma Arterton's is in Runner Runner.

Blue Jasmine is a multi-layered, 21st century reflection on the shallowness of civilisation.

Despite the plot's flaky structure, the film is at its best every time its extraordinary leading character is either on the ropes, or bouncing back ready to throw another punch.

Rather like watching a boxer facing 12 rounds, you'll be on the edge of your seat wondering if Jasmine will take a KO at any price - or end up slumped in the corner after throwing in one of her old luxury towels.


Cate Blanchett puts in an Oscar-worthy performance
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Sep 27, 2013
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