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blue-jasmineWoody Allen’s latest film centers on the single most annoying character of any film this year. Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) is the widow of a Bernie Madoff type (Alec Baldwin) who is now out of money and options. Her husband is gone, and so is the money he scooped out of the pockets of unsuspecting investors.

Broke and shunned by her friends, she leaves Park Avenue and NYC behind for a free place to stay with her sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco. The pair have never been close, but Ginger, whose investment with her former brother-in-law left her destitute and ruined her marriage, puts family first and welcomes Jasmine into her home.

Unfortunately Jasmine’s self-centered, haughty attitude, combined with her toxic past, make it impossible to build a future on the West Coast.

Darker than most of Allen’s recent output, “Blue Jasmine” doesn’t go for laughs—very often anyway—but is an astutely crafted psychological character study. Jasmine is a modern day Blanche Du Bois, a faded bright light now forced to depend on the kindness of strangers. Getting in her way are delusions of grandeur and a continued sense of denial—likely the same sense that kept her guilt free during the years the illegal cash was flowing—that eventually conspire to fracture her psyche. “There’s only so many traumas one can take,” she says, “ before you end up in the street, screaming.”

“Blue Jasmine” meanders somewhat—it’s nonlinear flashback setup recalls “Annie Hall”—but is brilliantly performed by the entire cast, including Hawkins, Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Louis C.K., Peter Sarsgaard and Baldwin. But this is Blanchett’s show. She’s in every frame of the movie and will undoubtedly be nominated for an Oscar for her efforts.

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