Every year director Woody Allen presents a movie that is usually eagerly awaited. Whilst most have been comedies, there have been a few dramas amongst his extensive back catalogue. His gift in mixing both genres with a dash of romance has served him well with his recent output. ‘Café Society’ is more of the same. That isn’t bad as it reflects the high calibre of film-making for which Allen is renowned. With stylish wit and performances, his latest silver screen soufflé is a delight few can resist.
In 1930’s New York, Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) is looking for a job. Travelling to Hollywood where he gains employment from his high powered agent uncle Phil (Steve Carell) and marvels in his new life. Things get better when he meets his Uncle’s secretary Vonnie (Kristen Stewart). Falling in love, they begin a blossoming relationship. Complications arise via secret boyfriends and eager ladies who make Bobby’s and Vonnie’s romance a less than smooth path to eternal happiness.
Allen’s films have always relied on the strength of his characters. How they interact with each other and view life ensures humour comes naturally. ‘Café Society’ features an abundance of this form of comedy within a dramatic structure. Shown through the romance of the central duo, life offers a myriad of complications with fate and consequence playing a large part. The ripple effect of their actions can be felt for years as they realise what they’ve done has changed them.
This heavy subtext elevates the humour which is at Allen’s usual wry best. One could call ‘Café Society’ a ‘safe Allen movie’ as whilst it’s still top drawer Allen, it doesn’t push any boundaries. Perhaps he’s at an age where he doesn’t need to as the actors he chooses bring much gravitas to his words. Eisenberg and Stewart are well chosen for their roles with their co-stars of the typical sturdy calibre often seen in Allen’s films. The jazz score and cinematography are pleasing on the eyes and ears capturing the beautiful elegance of 1930’s.
‘Café Society’ is a nice, breezy effort slotting well into the Allen repertoire. It may not change your viewpoint about him as a film-maker but it offers amiable viewing few can match. No doubt he will continue creating movies until his final day although his refined creativity will endure with films like these.
Movie Review Rating out of 10: 7
Movie Review by Patrick Moore
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