the fresh films reviews

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Café Society (2016)

Woody Allen
United States
Café Society
96 minutes
Letty Aronson
Stephen Tenenbaum
Edward Walson
Woody Allen

Cast includes:

Bobby Dorfman Jesse Eisenberg ˝
Veronica "Vonnie" Sybil Kristen Stewart ˝
Phil Stern Steve Carell
Veronica Hayes Blake Lively
Rad Taylor Parker Posey ˝
Ben Dorfman Corey Stoll
Rose Dorfman Jeannie Berlin
Marty Dorfman Ken Stott
Candy Anna Camp
Steve Paul Schneider
Narrator Woody Allen



Woody Allen dreams himself away to a glossy, idealized version of 1930s high-life in Hollywood and New York, in which an awkward young Jew from NYC competes with his powerful, middle-aged Hollywood mogul uncle for the favour of Vonnie, the latter's beautiful young secretary. In this love-triangle with a twist, it's almost as if a young and inexperienced version of Woody Allen is pitted against his powerful present-day self, although that may be giving the film (and Allen) more credit than deserved.

Jesse Eisenberg plays The Woody Allen Character almost in a mimicry fashion, which alternates between effective and annoying. His transition midway in the film is Eisenberg's best achievement, but the same cannot be said for director Allen's handling of this and other narrative developments here. Instead of actually dealing with the story's potentially most potent dramatic situations (for example when Vonnie finally surrenders to The Woody Allen Character's advances), Allen uses his own voice-over to skip to the next chapter in this constantly lightweight string-of-events. As Vonnie, Kristen Stewart is well-cast and has the right energy, but she's ultimately underused and underdeveloped by Allen. This is a story seen from the perspective of the males, most of whom are fuelled by the power that money, fame or brutality has brought them.

Cafe Society is an almost completely irrelevant piece of escapism with a negligible romance or two and yellowish, oversaturated images which are almost physically painful to look at. The film's main redeeming quality is Allen's well-known humour and glimpses of fine writing, which for the most part appear in a couple of amusing asides.

Copyright © 02.01.2018 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang