One of the very best movies in Woody Allen’s lengthy directorial career, thanks largely to Cate Blanchett in the role of a snobbish, pill-popping, vodka-guzzling, delusional former New York socialite fallen on hard times, who comes to stay with her polar-opposite adopted sister (Sally Hawkins, also in top form) in San Francisco’s Mission District. Yes, Allen is clearly adapting Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire
(without attribution), but he makes it seem as fresh as this morning, with a bittersweet tone of regret and melancholy tinged with earthy Bay Area humor. Among the typically large and gregarious cast are plenty of Type-A personalities for Blanchett’s title character to react against: Alec Baldwin (as Jasmine’s financial-crook husband), Bobby Cannavale (the sister’s working-stiff boyfriend), Andrew Dice Clay (sister’s ex), Peter Sarsgaard (an upscale love interest), Louis C.K. (a down-market ditto), and Michael Stuhlbarg (a horny dentist). Blanchett, in full regalia hissing the razor-sharp dialogue, is one for the Allen all-time highlight reel. (98 min.)
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Woody's back, and Cate's got him.