Woody Allen films, good and bad, have followed a few predictable templates for the last few years. Mostly he’s favored romantic comedies set in gorgeous European cities (Midnight in Paris, To Rome With Love, Vicky Cristina Barcelona). Sometimes, he’s made more straightforward comedies, with an Allen-like neurotic at the center, played either by Woody or a stand-in (as in Whatever Works, starring Larry David). Occasionally he’s taken on dramatic thrillers about morality, like Cassandra’s Dream and Match Point.
But for the first time in a while, it seems hard to know how to place the new Woody Allen movie, Blue Jasmine. Allen has called it a “serious drama,” but from the trailer it looks at least a little comedic.
There is one way to look at it: Perhaps, as Rolling Stone suggested a few months back, it’s an update on A Streetcar Named Desire. While it’s set in contemporary San Franciso, the plot, as far as I can make it out, seems strikingly similar to Tennessee Williams’ play: A woman who’s down on her luck and apparently alcoholic (the great Cate Blanchett, in the title role) is forced to stay with her sister (Sally Hawkins, of Happy-Go-Lucky and Cassandra’s Dream), and her angry, red-blooded lover (Bobby Cannavale), as she unravels.
The rest of the cast, as is to be expected from an Allen movie, is also stellar, with Alec Baldwin, Louis C.K., Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Andrew Dice Clay. Blanchett also played Streetcar’s Blanche DuBois onstage in 2009, so I look forward to seeing whether she and Allen can pull of something similar here.