Café Society is the latest comedic romantic-drama written and directed by Woody Allen. It follows Bobby Dorfman (Jessie Eisenberg) as he moves from New York to Los Angeles in the 1930s to work for his Uncle (Steve Carrell). There he meets his uncle’s assistant Vonnie (Kristen Stewart) and immediately falls in love with her.
I’m not the biggest Woody Allen fan in the world. I haven’t yet got round to watching his classic films, and don’t love much of his most recent work. But I found Café Society to be a pleasant enough watch. The strongest aspect of the film was unquestionably the charming performances from Jessie Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, and especially Steve Carrell.
I thought all three put in some good performances. And given the fact that Eisenberg is in almost every scene of the film, he had to be good. His slightly quirky performances work with Allen’s tone as a filmmaker, meaning he was a great fit as the lead of an Allen film. He and Stewart had good chemistry, which is hardly surprising given the fact they they’ve worked together several times now, and together they really sell this complicated relationship.
The 1930s look and feel of the film is also wonderful. It really captures the time period, with some beautiful sets and a jazz score that feels a like a great accompaniment to. The story itself is a simple affair. Offering Allen a chance to discuss old Hollywood, human nature, and most importantly given that it’s a Woody Allen film, how much he loves New York.
The comedy in the film is very typically Woody Allen. It’s slightly off beat, and a bit different rather than completely laugh out loud, rude and crude humour. The film isn’t hilarious, but there were enough laughs in the film for me to enjoy that aspect of it. It’s not as hugely prevalent in the film as some of Allen’s films as this is not a straight up comedy, rather a drama with comedic elements.
But really there’s nothing in the film to lift it beyond this. Café Society is a very simple film, with no big ideas really behind it. The humour and performances make it enjoyable, but this is hardly one of Allen’s greater works, like Blue Jasmine.