Review: Café Society
Director: Woody Allen
By Sarah Stopforth
“Unrequited love kills more people in a year than tuberculosis.”
The most Woody Allen line ever written.
At one point in the film, leading man Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg doing a very convincing Woody Allen impression) explains his feelings towards Los Angeles: “I’m kind of half bored, half fascinated,” which perfectly describes my feelings towards Woody Allen’s 47th feature film, Café Society.
The story follows Bobby’s move from The Bronx to sunny Los Angeles in the 1930s, in search of a change of scenery, a new job and some excitement in the picture industry. Luckily Bobby’s Uncle Phil (Steve Carell) is a big-time Hollywood agent, and gives him a key to the door into the “Hollywood society”. Fortunately for Bobby, his uncle is in high demand, so Phil enlists his assistant, the ever-luminous Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), to show his nephew around Tinseltown – a sea of beige in the 1930s.
Bobby’s parents and siblings, remain in The Bronx. His brother Ben (Corey Stoll), a gangster who is about to open a nightclub, makes for some humorous sequences of dumping bodies in wet cement. Among the rest of the superb cast is Parker Posey, Blake Lively, and the most beautifully cast parents Ken Stott and Jeannie Berlin (The Night Of) with the best, most realistic and hilarious married-couple-spats I’ve ever seen on-screen. The plot did drag at various points in the film, with unnecessary B-plot storylines of Bobby’s family and so on. But that’s a classic Woody Allen thing to do, throw as much realism in there as possible!
Most of all, the cinematography, costumes and art direction capture this period to perfection. We’re currently in a time where “HD” seems to be everything, but it is nothing without what is first put into the frame, and everything put into this film was styled with flare and captured tremendously.
Kristen Stewart really did steal the show with her performance in her debut Allen film. During an interview, she said something particularly poignant about the film, which made up three-quarters of the fascinated portion of my thoughts:
“The movie is really a reflection on the different loves that you can have in life, and how your perspective changes as you grow a little bit older. It’s really a movie about getting to the end of a certain period and looking back and wondering what could have been.”
All in all, this is another excellent example of the Woody Allen view on life:
A romantic comedy, written by a sadistic, cynical comedy writer, filmed through the most rose-tinted, stylized glasses in all of New York and Los Angeles.
Here’s to film number 48.