Movie review: Woody Allen comes home with “Blue Jasmine”

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From the July 25, 2013 edition

After his loose Europe-based trilogy (“Vicky Christina Barcelona,” “Midnight in Paris” and “To Rome With Love”), Woody Allen is a filmmaker rejuvenated. Nothing like a vacation to give you new perspective, eh?

“Blue Jasmine” has Allen back in the States, although it’s only partly set in his beloved New York City.

Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) relocates to San Francisco following a life crisis that has her leaving behind a high-society life in NYC with her husband (Alec Baldwin). The shake-up gives her a chance to reconnect with a sister (Sally Hawkins) with whom she has little connection.

“Jasmine” relies more on its lead character than any Allen movie in recent memory, which is wise as Blanchett can manage both comedic bluster and the more weighty moments. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more likably unlikable character.

Hawkins is as delightful as the mismatched sister, and appearances by a pair of comedians in different stages of their careers — Louis C.K. and Andrew “Dice” Clay — are well-placed.

Allen is 77, so we may well be witnessing the twilight of his career, which he’s ending with the same seemingly effortless charm, wit and neuroses he’s known for. Woody, it’s good to have you home.