Café Society stars, Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Now You See Me), Kristen Stewart (Twilight, Snow White and the Huntsman), Steve Carell (The Office, The 40-Year-Old Virgin), Blake Lively (Gossip Girl, Green Lantern) and is written and directed by Woody Allen (Annie Hall, Midnight in Paris).
In the 1930s, New Yorker Bobby Dorfman (Eisenberg) decides to move to LA in hope of a more interesting life. There he meets and falls in love with Vonnie (Stewart) and become entangled in a love triangle that makes Bobby question his move to LA.
The recent years in Woody Allen’s film making career have been hit or miss. For every Blue Jasmine and Midnight in Paris, there’s an Irrational Man or To Rome with Love. Café Society falls some where in the middle. It’s not as bad as his worse films but no where near Blue Jasmine. It also doesn’t do anything new that we haven’t seen Woody do before and he actually retreads a lot from his previous film. But even so, this film still managed to be enjoyable and if you’re like me, in which you like Woody Allen films you’ll probably find a lot to like in Café Society.
Jesse Eisenberg has worked with Allen before in To Rome With Love but this is the first time he’s been leading and playing a version of Woody Allen himself. The combination of Eisenberg and Allen, is a perfect fit and in the future I think we’ll see them do incredible work together. Eisenberg is really solid in this film but the performance that stole the show for me was, Steve Carell as Eisenberg’s uncle. Carell has proven over the last few years that he’s more than capable of handling dramatic roles and in this he shined as a guy you want to hate but can’t help but understand. This is a subtle performance from Carell that will probably go unnoticed but is really wonderful.
I’m a sucker for the golden age of Hollywood and the 30s in general. It never gets old for me, watching films set in that time period. I love the swinging music, the fancy clothes, the films, cinema always makes it feel like a fun time to live in. So with that I appreciate Allen’s love of old school Hollywood and how he romanticizes it on screen (even if we’ve seen it before).
Along with the setting this film is beautifully shot. The film jumps back and forth from LA to New York and everywhere it goes, Vittorio Storaro’s gorgeous cinematography comes too. Storaro plays a huge role in telling the story in this film, by showing a bright, attractive LA and a darker, uninviting New York. Either way, Café Society was always a pleasure to look at.
Even if Allen doesn’t always make 10/10 films, I will never be tired of listening to his dialogue. It’s sharp, witty and insightful. There are lines in this film you want to write down and remember how poetic they are and others that will have you laughing throughout. My favorite scene in the film is when Bobby goes back to New York and has a dinner with his very interesting family. They’re all sat around the table, going back and forth with each other, in a hilarious scene that had me laughing out loud several times. When Woody Allen’s writing is funny, it can really make me laugh.
As of late Kristen Stewart has been turning peoples opinions with films like Still Alice and Certain Women but admittedly I haven’t seen those film and with Café Society she isn’t winning me over. I just don’t see any life or emotion in any action she does or anything she says. I’m sure she’s a nice person but in front of the camera, she shows no personality or any traits that make me want to watch her act. This is however her third film with Jesse Eisenberg and they do have chemistry. She was the only weak link in the acting for me, everyone else was putting in excellent work.
I really liked Allen’s writing as I always do but I found problems in his direction with this one. There were a few times he jumped back and forth in time and it was disjointing. There was one time he used it to explain the backstory of Bobby’s brother and it worked then but the other few times, it took me out of the film. Speaking of Bobby’s brother, Ben played by Corey Stoll, he was underdeveloped and in the third act, Allen reached for moments in the story I wasn’t invested in with the Ben character.
Nothing pulled me out of this film more than Woody Allen’s narration. He narrates the film from the start and you immediately know it’s him and every time he chirps in with something to say, you stop think about the film and instead all I could think of was Woody Allen. His narration is constant, all the time throughout the film and it get’s really annoying. I just wanted the film to flow and not be interrupted by pointless exposition.
I think if you’re a fan of Woody Allen you will enjoy aspects of this film but Café Society isn’t one of his greats. It is however a fun, enjoyable film that if you mute Allen’s narration would play out really nicely.
Have you seen Café Society and what did you think of it?