Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Cate Blanchett Essentials, #3 / 5

It is with great regret that I have to announce the failure of my goal of watching all of the Cate Blanchett Essentials before christmas. However, it's only the #1 that's still missing from my list of watched movies, as I managed to squeeze the following film into my busy december schedule:

Coffee and Cigarettes (2003) Jim Jarmusch

IMDB: 6.9 - RT: 64% / 74%

The reason
„Because it sounds crazy and eclectic enough to not just be a depressing modern black-and-white movie. And because everyone says Cate's segment is their favourite.“

The story
Different persons, mostly two at a time, are shown drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. In each of the segments, a conflict of varying intensity is portrayed, though never resolved. Mainly the film gives us an impression of the awkwardness that is often caused by two people trying to communicate.

The message
Life is just a game (?)

The character
Cate plays two cousins, Cate and Shelly, in the segment named - fittingly - "Cousins". The character Cate very much resembles Cate Blanchett as we know her from interviews and other public appearances; likable and sweet - a little unhappy-seeming in the film though, trying to conceal her inner feelings. 
Shelly is the complete opposite of Cate. As her raunchy appearance sets her apart from both her cousin and every other character I've seen Blanchett play, I initially supposed Shelly to be played by another actress - that's how effective the costuming is. Emotionally speaking, Shelly shows a wide range of feelings, concealed by a thick layer of the afore-mentioned raunch. While seemingly self-contented and confident at the beginning, we see her losing that confidence brick by brick as she forces Cate into an uncomfortable position by imitating her gestures, talking sarcastically about her many appointments and mocking her presents. Shelly's jealousy thus casts a shadow over the entire situation, causing Cate to feel bad and helpless.

The performance
Rumour proves to be true: in the immensely short screen time her segment offers, Cate manages to deliver one of the best performances of her career in a literal one-woman-show. The action-reaction between the two characters is impressively realistic, primarily expressed through Cate's skillful mimic. The cousins say one thing and mean another - a feast for lovers of reading-between-the-lines - and although it would be unfair to give her all the credit for this little filmic pearl, Cate (the real one) definitely deserves much of it. 

The most impressive scene moment
Shelly: „I mean, it must be fabulous. You got it all. You got a good husband, beautiful baby, travel all over the world, stay in fancy hotels. Parties…“

Cate: „You know what they say, "The grass is always greener"...“

I just love the way Cate did and said this. The jealous and accusing undertone in Shelly's voice, trying to seem all small-talky and blasé... while Cate tries to save the situation with that old saying, but not finishing the sentence. The whole dialogue could be out of a Woody Allen movie; two persons not really talking to each other though both know exactly what's going on. 

The blemish
Too short! I want a full-movie-length Cate-show!

Does the film deserve to be called one of the Cate Blanchett Essentials?
I did not expect to say this - but yes, definitely yes. If only for this one segment (the others vary a lot in quality).

For the movie, not Cate.

1 - Elizabeth, 2 - Notes on a Scandal, 3 - Coffee & Cigarettes, 4 - The Gift, 5 - Robin Hood


  1. It is with regret that I announce I haven't seen a Jim Jarmusch film - yet. I have Dead Man waiting for me on DVD at home. I definitely want to see this one though. Cate is one of my idols, she's such a wonderful actress and person.

    1. Oh Ruth, how can you not?!
      - Just joking, this was my first of his too. And it made me want to watch more.
      As for Cate, I'm both happy and sad about the fact that I finished watching her last Essential yesterday. She's one of the best actresses I know.

  2. I have forgotten all about this flick, but when you mentioned Woody Allen it reminded me of her work in Blue Jasmine. I loved Sally Hawkins as the sister, but Cate could have played both roles. Need to watch this movie again.

    1. I'm dying to see Blue Jasmine! It's a shame small movies take so long to get here. Yeah, Blanchett can do just about anything.


Let the discussion begin!