Café Society

***

Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Kristen Stewart and Jesse Eissenberg in Cannes Film Festival opener Cafe Society directed by Woody Allen.
"A fluffy and charming confection that has an enticing exterior without much substance on the inside."

It’s easy to see why the organisers of the Cannes Film Festival gave Woody Allen the opening slot with this glossy and glamorous fable set in the Thirties and spanning both New York and Hollywood in the golden age of the studios.

It is eminently watchable and has gorgeous period looks thanks to the costume and design departments and the veteran cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, who was working with Allen for the first time.

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The chemistry between the two leads Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart works well enough, with Eisenberg’s character having distinct shades in all his insecurities of Allen himself.

He plays Bobby Dorfman, who leaves New York to try his luck out West, where he seeks a little help from his uncle Phil (Steve Carell). The veteran agent talks a good game, claiming deals with Ginger Rodgers and the like as he swans around swimming pool parties. He feels obliged to give Bobby a job as an assistant.

Eisenberg’s character follows puppy-like in his wake, initially being palmed off on his secretary Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), who takes him on a tour of celebrity mansions before things between them start to get more serious despite the girl’s best intentions.

Just to complicate the mix, she has a boyfriend who happens to be Uncle Phil and who seems set to leave his wife and marry her instead. She spurns Bobby who eventually turns tail and ends up back in New York helping to run a club owned by his gangster brother Ben (Corey Stoll) – the Café Society of the title.

The film proceeds in fits and starts and strangely for a piece about passion left this member of its audience neither shaken nor stirred. In the Allen canon it sits somewhere between Midnight In Paris and Irrational Man as a fluffy and charming confection that has an enticing exterior without much substance on the inside.

Reviewed on: 11 May 2016
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Café Society packshot
A man comes to Hollywood with aspirations of working in film, only to fall in love.
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