Oscar-tipped comedy shows Allen can still cut it

Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin star in Woody Allen's 'Blue Jasmine'.
Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin star in Woody Allen's 'Blue Jasmine'.

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) and her businessman husband, Hal (Alec Baldwin), enjoy a privileged life in New York.

The society wife has little time for her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) or then-brother-in-law Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), who foolishly invest their lottery winnings in one of Hal’s bogus property investment schemes.

When Hal is exposed as a crook, all of Jasmine’s assets are seized and she is forced to head to San Francisco and move into divorcee Ginger’s modest apartment.

The sister’s new boyfriend Chili (Bobby Cannavale) and rival suitor Al (Louis C.K.) fail to impress snooty Jasmine, who is compelled to seek “menial work” as a secretary in the office of dentist Dr Flicker (Michael Stuhlbarg).

Then Jasmine meets a handsome diplomat called Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard), who has excellent prospects.

“It might be an inflated ego but I think I’d make a good congressman,” he beams, heralding a turnaround in fortunes for the self-obsessed heroine.

In a career spanning more than 50 years, Woody Allen has won four Oscars for his direction and writing, and been nominated for a further 19 golden statuettes.

Cate Blanchett is strongly tipped to win him more with her tour-de-force portrayal of the cuckolded wife in what turns out to be an emotionally wrought comedy drama.

Distinguished by Blanchett’s raw and bleakly funny performance which is virtually guaranteed this year’s Oscar and has already won her the Best Actress BAFTA, ‘Blue Jasmine is one of Woody Allen’s best films on US soil for some time.

The statuesque Australian actress is in almost every frame, delivering zinging dialogue with split-second timing and plenty of tears.

The script is studded with pithy turns of phrase - “Never trust doctors, they put both my parents in early graves” - most of which are gifted to the leading lady as she expertly conveys her character’s downfall at her own manicured hands.

Hawkins offers strong support as a sibling who has always lived in Jasmine’s finely tailored shadow.

‘Blue Jasmine’ (Cert 12, 98 mins, Warner Home Video, Drama/Comedy/Romance, also available to buy DVD £19.99/Blu-ray £22.99)

Also out this week: Machete Kills, Closed Circuit, The Fifth Estate, Reef 2: High Tide, Cold Comes The Night, It’s A Lot.