There are larger and smaller forces at work. Though Jasmine's plight is in part due to the Wall Street collapse, her failing marriage is also at fault. Like so many high-end moneymen, Hal played a risky game on the personal front as well. An FBI investigation put him behind bars for mishandling other people's money. Jasmine levies the penalty for his other women.

Among Hal's victims were Ginger and her ex, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay) — their small lottery winnings and their marriage quickly down the drain. Ginger's new love is Chili (Bobby Cannavale), a mechanic with an easy smile and a quick temper. Jasmine's distaste for the latest "loser" in her sister's life soon does its work. But Allen makes clear which of his savages are the noble ones.

I don't imagine the director has spent much time in the blue-collar world, but helped by excellent turns by Hawkins, Clay and Cannavale, he settles in nicely. A wonderfully testy exchange between the sisters over Jasmine's first-class ticket to San Francisco is a classic.

PHOTOS: Billion-dollar movie club

A cocktail party seems to promise a new life for both sisters. Ginger meets Al (Louis C.K.), a sweet-talking salesman. Jasmine meets a dashing young diplomat, Dwight (Peter Sarsgaard). And for a while, the clouds clear.

Allen has given us a protagonist driven by many of the same demons he's explored in other, earlier morality tales. In "Blue Jasmine," the fable is a twisted version of trickle-down economics restaged, reconsidered. Jasmine's excesses he may forgive, the end leaves room for debate. Wall Street's he does not.

betsy.sharkey@latimes.com

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'Blue Jasmine'

MPAA rating: PG-13 for mature thematic material, language and sexual content

Running time: 1 hour, 38 minutes

Playing: At ArcLight Hollywood, Landmark Theatre, West Los Angeles