Cate Blanchett is drawing rave reviews for her role as pill-popping, mentally unraveling former high-society wife in Woody Allen's new tragicomedy, Blue Jasmine.
In a performance dubbed "neurotically golden" by THR film critic Todd McCarthy, the Oscar-winning actress exudes desperation, sophistication and manic energy to step into the expensive shoes of downwardly spiraling Jasmine, whose life falls apart when her duplicitous billionaire husband (Alec Baldwin) loses his fortune and commits suicide in prison. She flees New York City to move in with her grocery-bagger sister Ginger (Sally Hawkins) and a domino effect of drama ensues as Jasmine struggles to come to grips with her new lot in life.
"He writes his characters with such tragic flaws and juxtaposes them against characters who are equally flawed -- and there comes the absurdity and the tragedy," Blanchett tells The Hollywood Reporter of Allen, describing Jasmine as "phenomenally deluded and incredibly naive."
Peter Sarsgaard, who plays a wordly West Coast diplomat with his eye on marrying the elegant Manhattan transplant, says: "She's beautiful in a way that's like classic -- take away insanity, and what's left is perfect."
"Maybe it would be kind of fun the way that she's crazy, if she can get a handle on it," he adds, joking: "We'll prescribe her some drugs and it'll be fine."
The film, also co-starring Andrew Dice Clay as Jasmine's bitter ex-brother-in-law, hits select theaters Friday. The cast stepped out Wednesday for the L.A. premiere, but the famously reclusive Allen didn't attend.
"I think the whole process of filming for him is quite a painful one," says Blanchett. "He has to listen to what he's written, and he wants to get it over and done with as quick as possible."
Sarsgaard, currently starring on AMC's The Killing, compares Allen's direct and deadpan bedside manner to that of his family members in Denmark.
"He's extremely truthful, so if he doesn't like it, he will tell you. And he won't tell you in a way that's meant to make you feel better as he tells you he didn't like it. He tells you in a way that's totally straight," explains the actor.
For instance, he continues, "Woody would never come up to me in a scene and go, like, 'That was terrible!' He would never do that. He would just come up and say, like, that wasn't very good. Which I told him reminded me of this Danish quality that I know from Danish relatives. They'll say like [affects flat Danish accent], 'Peter, that was very, very bad. And it sounds very similar to 'Peter, that was very, very good.'"