For all of his best known tropes—fear of death, romantic anxiety, those inescapable mother issues—Woody Allen is rarely talked about in terms of his exploration of class.
Class, however, has been a constant theme of his work—whether it’s Martin Landau’s disgust over his philistine girlfriend in Crimes and Misdemeanors (she couldn’t distinguish between Schubert and Schumann) or Alvy Singer, feeling abundantly, self-consciously Jewish as he sits around the WASP-y dinner table of Annie Hall. (Indeed, Allen’s films have always been a model of good taste themselves—from the Windsor typeface of his opening credits, to the perfectly curated jazz and classical music that fill up his scores.)
Allen’s understanding of class and, in particular, the near panicky snobbism of the upwardly mobile, is at the forefront of Blue Jasmine, and embodied in a brilliant, fearless performance by Cate Blanchett. Her Jasmine grew up sturdily middle class but always had a sense she was destined for grander things. (She was adopted—which certainly might encourage the illusion that her rightful social standing had been unjustly snatched from her.)
Her dreams come true when she...