Sunday, July 31, 2016

Café Society: Movie Review


A clash of secrets and affairs in two different worlds.
Café Society presents a new style of Woody Allen film. Stylistically it’s perhaps similar to Magic in the Moonlight – romance in the air even if everything else isn’t quite clicking. Thematically it’s very similar to almost every Woody Allen movie – romantic idealism, romantic idealism within a comedy of errors, murder, and belief that another city or another time period is better than the one you’re currently living in. But narratively, it’s unlike any story Allen has told before. 2016

Directed by: Woody Allen

Screenplay by: Woody Allen

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart

Los Angeles in the 1930s, meet Hollywood agent Phil Stern (Steve Carell) who loves name-dropping way more than he loves family. Meet his family in New York: A sister who idolizes her brother and loves holding her family together, her husband who shows his Jewish, working-class, Brooklyn roots and hates her brother, their son Ben (Corey Stoll) who’s in the mob, daughter Evelyn who’s married and living the suburban life, and son Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) who doesn’t feel he fits in the working-class New York scene, so he’s off to LA, looking for something a little bit better.

Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) and Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) in CAFÉ SOCIETY
© 2016 Gravier Productions, Inc., Photography Sabrina Lantos.
It doesn’t take Bobby long to fall in love with Phil’s assistant Vonnie (Kristen Stewart). Both Bobby and Vonnie are out of place in this era of Hollywood prestige. Which makes it a bit difficult to get into either character – our only two main characters. Congruent with Allen and Eisenberg’s usual brands, Bobby is intelligent, neurotic, naïve, rambling and lacking self-awareness. But he’s not as inherently funny as such an outsider should be. Vonnie on the other hand has this down-to-earth cool where she rejects the Hollywood dream, which is odd to find in a Hollywood agent’s office, as well as in the other secrets she happens to be hiding.

The movie is about secrets and affairs aplenty unfolding across the country and the changing of lives. Unlike most (but not all) Woody Allen movies, there is no straightforward plot, it’s just the fluidity of life.

There are two worlds colliding. The lavish lifestyle of Los Angeles and then the modesty of Brooklyn meets mob money turns into the underground high society of New York. And that is shown absolutely beautifully. Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro knew how to highlight and contrast the dreamy landscape of California and the realization of those dreams in New York.

Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) and Veronica (Blake Lively) in CAFÉ SOCIETY
© 2016 Gravier Productions, Inc., Photography Sabrina Lantos.
It’s the beautiful photography, and the lovely jazz score which backdrop Allen’s usual witticisms (“A Jewish hooker? This is a first!” and “Unrequited love kills more people per year than tuberculosis.”) that make this film so easy to watch.

If she had been given a larger role, Blake Lively would be a force to reckon with. With a little more than two or three scenes, Lively just absolutely comes to life with Allen’s dialogue. She magnificently embodies a cross between sweet naivety, a worldly woman with no internal filter, and a beautiful woman just aching for one true idealistic love. In other words, Eisenberg’s Bobby’s perfect match; if he had not fallen in love with a different woman in a different world.

Similar Titles:


Magic in the Moonlight

Irrational Man

She's Funny That Way