‘Café Society’ Review

Woody Allen brings us ‘Café Society,’ a witty study of the contrasting lifestyles of big-boned New Yorkers and superficial L.A.-goers in the late 1930s.

‘Café Society’ doesn’t stand among Woody Allen’s best, but it certainly gives its best shot.

cafe society
Photo courtesy of Steven Zang.

Defining success is almost as difficult as achieving it. Just ask Woody Allen. Falling more and more into the category of a yearly event, Allen’s strong track record continues with his past July’s Café Society, a period piece without the punch. Fantastic costume & set design aside, this film hits its highs in its dialogue, but finds its lows in where to put the wordplay in the first place. It might not seem like much for a comedy with romantic entanglements galore. However, it’s definitely an interesting take on the odds and ends of prosperity from coast to coast, which is an experience typical of a Woody Allen flick.

Café Society introduces us to Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg), a New Yorker with an itch for the grandeur of the West Coast. There, he takes up work for his Uncle Phil (Steve Carell), a talent agent for some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities, and soon has romantic impulses towards Phil’s secretary, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart).

Nevertheless, Bobby soon learns that beauty comes with the price of success, convincing him to move back to the big city to help his mob brother, Ben (Corey Stoll), run a flourishing nightclub with sizable recognition.  In due time, Bobby falls for the charming Veronica Hayes (Blake Lively) and must confront his past one last time before acknowledging the purity of his love.

Woody Allen, known for his “small talk,” brings plenty of it to Café Society. In full disclosure, much of the rom-com’s 96 minutes are built on the jargon and confessions of the flaw-full characters at hand. And although Woody Allen treats his characters as a driving force for the audience’s attention span, it was an analysis that we’ve seen before. Nothing about it felt new or unique besides the size of the sets.

Luckily for us, though, that’s what he wants. Woody Allen carries the feel of an independent film above the excruciating weight of A-List actors. He brings us down to earth, just when you think you’re going to get lost in the immensity of the lavish era. Thus, we get lost in a different fashion, the kind where we can actually relate to the both the wins and losses of these obviously human figures.

“I had a good time watching it, but the writing process felt rushed,” said James Barker, a 20-year old Montclair resident and long-time enthusiast of Woody Allen’s distinctive style. “If Woody had just spent a little more time developing the action and the dialogue, the film would have flowed better and left the viewer more satisfied. Not Woody’s best work, but definitely not his worst.”

And that’s essentially it, folks. Woody Allen brings us his regular serving of sharp-tongued banter, just like he does every year. Café Society might play bigger and stand taller, but it still comes down to a comedic character analysis. And no one’s necessarily complaining about it! Because, as usual, Woody Allen already beat us all to the punchline.

Café Society is now playing in select theaters worldwide. And, lucky for us, the closest local venue is Bow Tie Clairidge Cinemas in the heart of downtown Montclair, right off of Bloomfield Ave. For a list of show-times and even more info on this acclaimed film, please visit fandango.com today.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login