Cafe Society (2016)

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It’s all a bit dinner jazz. It’s all a bit beautiful blondes bathed in golden sunshine. It’s all a bit meandering monologues studded with trademark Woody Allen quips such as this gem by the film’s matriarch Rose Dorfman (Jeannie Berlin): “Too bad the Jewish religion doesn’t have an afterlife. They’d get a lot more customers.” What I’m trying to say is that Cafe Society, much like the Hollywood bubble in which the majority of the film is set, is easy on the eye but with the exception of the closing shot soulless. In short, beige. Or as my friend more kindly put it, magnolia.

Jesse Eisenberg is Woody Allen. Sorry, Bobby Dorfman. The youngest of three children to housewife Rose and jewellery shop owner Marty (Ken Stott). Disappointed with his “stultifying” life in New York, he up sticks to the sunnier climes of Los Angeles where he gets a job running errands for his uncle Phil Stern (Steve Carell), a hotshot Hollywood agent with whom he shares a mutual attraction to his personal assistant Veronica “Vonnie” Sybil (Kristen Stewart). Romance blossoms, but soon withers on the vine when she is forced to choose between a life of luxury or love. As Woody Allen says in one of his many narrations: “Life has its own agenda.”

Back in New York he undergoes a surprisingly quick and complete transformation from awkward outsider to welcoming host of an exclusive private members club co-run with his gangster brother Ben (Corey Stoll). Taking the advice of one of the many characters who swan in and out of shot like prizes on the conveyor belt of The Generation Game – “Live every day as if it’s your last and someday you’ll be right” – he puts all thought of Vonnie behind him and goes on to raise a family with an equally beautiful woman who shares his former lover’s first name Veronica Hayes (Blake Lively). Life is a bowl of cherries, as they say, until “one evening in walked the past”.

The moral of the story is pure Woody Allen: “In matters of the heart, people do foolish things” and “Life is a comedy written by a sadistic comedy writer”. But there is a lack of depth and believability to the characters in the love triangle and the one-liners though entertaining are nothing but a series of colourful light bulbs which temporarily illuminate an otherwise dimly lit plot which, quite frankly, lacks a jolt of electricity. And as for the comedy, it was more smile-inducing than LOL with only the dry punch lines from the terrific Jeannie Berlin as Jewish matriarch Rose Dorfman raising a titter: “First a murderer, then he becomes a Christian. What did I do to deserve this?

Video courtesy of: Lionsgate Movies

Café Society (2016)
Café Society poster Rating: 7.1/10 (8,378 votes)
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Stars: Steve Carell, Sheryl Lee, Todd Weeks, Paul Schackman
Runtime: 96 min
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Released: 05 Aug 2016
Plot: In the 1930s, a young Bronx native moves to Hollywood where he falls in love with the secretary of his powerful uncle, an agent to the stars. After returning to New York, he is swept up in ...


Peter Callaghan

Peter Callaghan

Writer at reviewsphere
Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Dramatic Studies graduate, actor, writer and drama workshop leader. As well as a performance poet and corporate roleplayer.
Peter Callaghan

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