This is a Woody Allen film with supporting roles filled by Louis C.K. and Andrew Dice Clay. And yet? Not a comedy. Not by a long shot. "Blue Jasmine" is Allen's mash-up of "A Streetcar Named Desire" and the Bernie Madoff scandal, and it's a full-out drama - with a few minor-key comic moments. The results are uneven, but what really sparks here is Cate Blanchett's knock-out performance as a woman on the verge. Blanchett creates an amazingly complex portrayal, and Allen gives her a chance to show the character of Jasmine in her confident, cosseted, wealthy years and then in her lost-it-all delirium and angst. The perpetually haughty Jasmine moves in with her blue-collar sister (a miscast Sally Hawkins) and clashes with the sister, the sister's boyfriend (Bobby Cannavale), her new employer (Michael Stuhlbarg) and most people she meets. Watching Blanchett bristle and snap and wilt as she faces the real world is a thing of tragic beauty.
- KRISTINA DORSEY