A life lived without an honest acknowledgement of one’s history is like living in a 3 walled house; eventually, the weight of reality will come crashing down. I know for I have seen it happen. When a person runs away from their life’s history, taking on a new identity, the facade never lasts long. There was someone I dated a long time ago that never talked about their childhood, parents, or even hobbies. It soon became apparent that my interests were becoming their interests. I saw how they were molding themselves to my way of living and found it unsettling. Essentially they were creating a life for themselves that was dependent on me. The problem they ran into was when there was an issue or crisis, they were ill equipped to handle it; they would implode. The relationship soon ended as I found out later they started a brand new, different life. In a powerful Oscar worthy performance Cate Blanchett (The Lord of the Rings franchise, The Aviator) played wealthy socialite Jasmine, a woman whose life crumbled apart upon the arrest of her crooked businessman husband Hal, played by Alec Baldwin (The Departed, It’s Complicated). With everything lost, Jasmine left New York for San Francisco to stay with her working class sister Ginger, played by Sally Hawkins (Made in Dagenham, Happy-Go-Lucky). Writer and director Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris, Match Point) has a knack for picking an ideal cast and letting them shine with their craft. Everyone in this drama was outstanding. Cate’s over the top brilliant performance was as perfect as it could be; she will be a front runner for the award races this year. I have never seen a poor performance from Sally and she was made to play Ginger. Besides the surprisingly excellent acting by Bobby Cannavale (Win Win, Parker) as Ginger’s boyfriend Chili; do not faint when I tell you comedian Andrew Dice Clay (Pretty in Pink, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane) as Ginger’s ex-husband Augie was living real in his role. I thought the switching of scenes from current to past events would be annoying; but instead, it gave them more intensity. There may not have been a lot of laughs but Woody’s script had a wonderful rhythm to it. This was a fascinating story about the lives people try to create for themselves.
3 1/2 stars
At every social gathering there usually is one person who is the know it all, has an opinion about everything. At least that has been my experience and the reason why I enjoyed this movie. Ben Stiller (Tower Heist, Tropic Thunder) as Roger Greenberg was one of those annoying individuals. He was quite good in this character, that was not a typical role for him. Without the stereotypical sight gags and humor from Ben, his Roger was someone you could hate. Recovering from a nervous breakdown, Roger agreed to fly out and house-sit while his brother and family went out of town. Available to help Roger was Florence Marr the family’s personal assistant, played by Greta Gerwig (no Strings Attached, Arthur). It didn’t take long before she became a target for Greenberg’s mood swings. As Roger tried to navigate the responsibilities needed, he attempted to reconnect with old friends who’s memories were different from his own. Since there was not much action in the story, this film will not appeal to everyone. The acting, however, was what moved the minimal plot; for every actor was strong in their character. If nothing else, my poor opinion of Ben Stiller after seeing his Tower Heist movie has improved after seeing this DVD.
2 2/3 stars — DVD