In 1930's Hollywood, the powerful agent, Phil Stern, is attending a party and receives a phone call from his sister living in New York. She asks for a job for her son and Phil's nephew, Bobby, who decided to move to Hollywood. Three weeks later Phil schedules a meeting with Bobby and decides to help him. He asks his secretary Veronica "Vonnie" to hang around with Bobby, showing him the touristic places. Bobby immediately falls in love with Vonnie, but she tells that she has a boyfriend, a journalist that travels most of the time. However, Vonnie's boyfriend is indeed a married man that is also in love with her and soon she has to make a choice between her two loves. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
"Cafe Society" was a phrase coined by Maury Henry Biddle Paul in 1915 to describe the "beautiful people" who socialized and threw parties in the high profile cafés and restaurants in New York, Paris, and London. See more »
When Leonard asks Evelyn "What are you keeping from me?" and walks towards her, a reflection of the camera is visible in a picture frame on the wall. See more »
Woody Allen often is an interesting and insightful directors, whose films regardless of how they come off overall look great, have great soundtracks and he often knows how to get strong performances out of actors, at his best his writing was a fine mix of the hilarious, the poignantly dramatic and the thought-provoking.
'Café Society' is not one of his best films. Allen's glory days were in the late 60s through to the early 90s, with the 70s and 80s (which saw masterpieces like 'Annie Hall', 'Crimes and Misdemeanours' and 'Manhattan' for example) being particularly good decades. From mid-90s onwards he became hit and miss, with the odd gem like 'Midnight in Paris' and 'Blue Jasmine' but generally his glory days are long gone.
As far as his films from the 2010s decade go, 'Midnight in Paris' and 'Blue Jasmine' are vastly superior but 'Café Society' does fare better than 'To Rome With Love' and 'You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger'. 'Café Society' is not a great film, but is not a poor one, generally Allen has done worse (almost all of them being in the last twenty years or so) but it really isn't one of his better films.
Its best asset is the magnificent cinematography, every shot takes the breath away and complements the also spot-on and very handsomely produced 30s period detail perfectly. The soundtrack also is an ideal fit, giving a real sense of period as well as being a wonderful soundtrack on its own. There are shades of prime-Allen writing, there are some very funny moments, some touching ones and it does evoke thought afterwards, Allen's themes done in an insightful way.
The story is simple but rarely dull, it is a long way from perfect as will be detailed later on in the review but it did maintain interest. It's nicely directed by Allen. Performances vary. Blake Lively is positively luminous and Steve Carrell shows that he is adept at comedy and drama in a role that requires both extremes. Was very pleasantly surprised by Kristen Stewart, she can not do much for me but this is proof that with good material she can be good, the role could easily have been hardly one at all but Stewart does make the role more interesting than he deserved to be.
Jesse Eisenberg didn't work for me, he just plays a younger Woody Allen alter ego and it just comes off as a bad impersonation without being either funny or charming, instead it's annoying and the neuroses are overdone. Corey Stoll also feels very out of place, didn't buy him for a minute as a mobster, the role didn't suit him in the first place and it didn't fit within the period.
On top of this, the script and story execution aren't perfect. Mostly the script is very enjoyable but some jokes, especially the bad-taste and insensitive poking fun at Jews, do fall flat. Allen's narration is irritating, overused and over-explanatory, more show and less tell please Allen, consequently giving 'Café Society' an overwritten feel. The story does suffer from too much crammed in and sketchily developed characters (making the central relationships not quite as convincing as they ought to have been), and while there was no problem with a more morose at the end the ending just felt too inconclusive and gave the sense that Allen was indecisive as to how to finish the film.
In conclusion, looks beautiful and has some enjoyable things but somewhat unsatisfying. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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