It's official: Woody Allen is leaving Barcelona, Paris, Rome, and London behind and returning stateside in his new film Blue Jasmine. In the first trailer for the movie, we see Cate Blanchett playing a wealthy New York housewife named Jasmine who moves in with her sister (Sally Hawkins) in San Francisco after her financier husband (Alec Baldwin) is arrested for fraud.
The film also stars Bobby Cannavale, Louis C.K., and Andrew Dice Clay, as the working class friends of Jasmine's sister, as well as Peter Sarsgaard as Dwight, a diplomat who takes an interest in the troubled, uppity heroine while her life and sanity unravel. Struggling to adjust to her new lifestyle, Jasmine heavily self-medicates and mourns the loss of her perfect, luxury-filled world.
Upon viewing the trailer, many critics are describing the film as a dramatic take on the aftermath of the Bernie Madoff scandal. It's a melancholy story, with just enough room for hints of comic relief.
Unlike Woody Allen's previous slew of movies set in picturesque European destinations, Blue Jasmine seems to be less of a travelogue and more of a complex character study. As Cate Blanchett prances around her new blue-collar world in Chanel tweed jackets, it appears that this film will capture the director's signature balance of entertainment and substance. Also, Louis C.K. in a Woody Allen movie? We're sold.
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What I’ve always admired about Adrien Brody is his project-choosing process. He takes on big studio flicks like King Kong and Predators from time to time but for the most part he’s a maverick sticking to independent or avant-garde fare in which he’s able to express himself with artistic integrity through unorthodox narratives. Such is the case in Wrecked his new film that sounds like Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours on paper but is far more disconcerting than that true tale of survival.
The story begins at the bottom of a featureless ravine inside a broken-down car that’s apparently been run off the road. In the passenger seat is an unnamed Man (Brody) who is trapped in shotgun while the body of a stranger rots in the backseat. Adding to this disturbing scenario is memory loss – the Man can’t recall how he got there or who he is. As dehydration starvation and exhaustion set in the line between reality and delusion blurs and the audience goes on a strange trip of rediscovery with the enigmatic prisoner.
While the linchpin in Boyle’s film is James Franco’s performance Wrecked relies more on the atmospheric direction of Michael Greenspan who makes his feature debut with this surreal picture. That’s not to say that Brody doesn’t deliver an unnerving portrayal of a man in a grave situation. As he moans and writhes in and out of his seat you can’t help sympathizing with him though screenwriter Christopher Dodd concocts a backstory that removes whatever remorse you had for him at times while piquing your curiosity at others. He heightens the anxiety of the unknown with a spooky score longer-than-average shots and a few bizarre situations. The natural environments and minimalist screenplay aid the filmmaker in creating his eerie tone despite the picturesque setting which would be calming if not for some perplexing hallucinations related to the Man’s past predicament.
Unfortunately the bare bones script is also the biggest problem with Wrecked as the film like its protagonist doesn’t really go anywhere. The revelations come far too quickly resulting in a boring anti-climactic effect. Even though there’s some distressing fun to be had while getting to the finish line it’s a sterilized psychological thriller that brings to mind films like Brad Anderson’s The Machinist but fails to achieve that level of ambiguous magnetism.