REVIEW: Cafe Society
Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively, Parker Posey
FilmInk rates movies out of $20 — the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
…predictable and intermittently maudlin…
It could certainly be argued that Woody Allen has been let off too lightly for his alleged personal transgressions. When it comes to his latter-day creative endeavours, on the other hand, perhaps we should cut him some slack. The writer/director is, after all, in his eighties, and cannot reasonably be expected to turn out any more masterpieces.
In any event, he certainly hasn’t done so with Cafe Society. There is nothing disastrously wrong with it, but – apart from one interesting plot development – nor is there anything to be said in its favour. It’s just eminently forgettable and rather dull. Even the meticulous 1930s period detail, which should be a plus, is laid on so lavishly that it becomes a distraction.
The central character is Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg), a young guy from the Bronx who heads to LA in the hope of working in Hollywood, preferably with the help of his uncle, big-shot agent, Phil Stern (Steve Carell). In next to no time, Bobby has fallen madly in love with Phil’s secretary, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart). What follows is predictable and intermittently maudlin, and when it’s supposed to be funny, it isn’t. Many of the standard Allen tropes are ticked off – jazz soundtrack, visual homage to Manhattan, Jewish family banter etc – but they don’t rise above formulaic level. And speaking of ticking things off, the ongoing roll-call of famous names – actors and directors of the era – is galling in a story that purports to criticise the shallow namedropping of Tinseltown. Cafe Society is watchable, but it’s no more than that.