Café Society – Film Review

I briefly glanced at some IMDB user reviews of Woody Allen’s new film, Café Society and was pretty surprised by some of the negative comments. I think that people are perhaps comparing the movie to his best works and to be honest, it’s not at that level. However, if you take his impressive filmography out of the picture and judge this as is, Café Society is a good film.

Starring Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart as the characters of Bobby and Vonnie, Café Society opened the Cannes Film Festival this year. I deliberately didn’t read too much into what the plot was so I could fully enjoy it. It wasn’t quite as I expected story-wise but I preferred the little twist in the film to the predictable boy meets girl. Although, I still don’t know what to make of the ending and where that leaves the characters. If you’ve seen it, let me know if you felt the same.

Written and Directed by Allen, his new film makes you regret hating Kristen Stewart for her well-known performance as the tragically annoying Bella Swan. She is definitely much better in Café Society but that probably wouldn’t be hard. Jesse Eisenberg’s character is pretty typical to a lot of roles he has where he is a bit arrogant, naïve and selfish. This may be off-putting for some but I don’t think we’re supposed to really like his character.

The two have already played a couple in the Nima Nourizadeh (Project X) film, American Ultra, which was an ok watch that poked fun at thriller/action/Jason Bourne type films. They are both pretty good on screen together and work well as playing couples.

My favourite author is F. Scott Fitzgerald and this film reminded me of his works as it has the same themes of wealth, status, and love. Not to mention, the similar character traits. This is also due to the fact that the film is set less than 10 years after the Roaring 20’s. Café Society is definitely triumphant in portraying marriage and the struggle to find love that is typical in Fitzgerald novels. It may be the character’s views on relationships that made me like the film as it does have many parallels with my favourite novel, The Great Gatsby. The voiceover narration (done by Woody Allen, himself) that plays throughout also reminded me of this. I felt that it could easily be Nick Carraway telling the story.

Probably one of the best features of the film is the colours and the costumes. Again, very Gatsby-esque. It is visually stunning. The scenes vary between being very golden to being very blue and they really come alive on screen. It reminded me of the works of Baz Luhrmann with glistening visuals and bright almost surreal colours.

The wardrobe is also beautiful. I spent a lot of the film longing after the dresses and skirts that Kristen Stewart’s character was wearing. I think it is pretty safe to say that Café Society captures the essence of the glamour and the ostentatious lifestyle of 1930’s Hollywood.

One thing I was kind of disappointed with was the supporting actors of Steve Carell and Blake Lively. Especially Blake Lively who does an alright job, but I think I pictured her having a bigger role in the film. Steve Carell is definitely not one of my favourite actors but he is ok as Jesse Eisenberg’s extremely busy producer uncle. Bruce Willis was originally cast in Carell’s role, but was apparently fired. I can absolutely not imagine him playing this part so it’s probably best it went to Steve Carell.

Overall, Woody Allen’s, Café Society is worth the watch. It isn’t a masterpiece as it does have it’s flaws but Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eisenberg perform well in the film. Despite some harsh reviews, I found Café Society did it’s job in capturing 1930’s America and is a solid 8/10.

 

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