It seems in recent years Woody Allen has been struggling to capture the critical acclaim of his earlier work. I however have thoroughly enjoyed his latest efforts ‘Magic In The Moonlight’ and ‘Irrational Man’. Due to this ‘Café Society’ was one of my most anticipated films of the year. With a smashing cast too I was really looking forward to this.
The film follows Jesse Eisenberg’s character, Bobby, as he moves to 1930s Los Angles in the hope to make a career for himself but instead he ends up falling in love. The context for ‘Café Society’ already had me intrigued as just like ‘Hail, Caesar!’ and ‘Trumbo’ to a certain extent this is a movie about the movies! A lot of work has clearly gone in to making this film look the part as it was gorgeous, from the cinematography to the costume and production design it was always a joy to watch. In the films opening scenes there were only a few aspects I wasn’t so keen on. Allen narrates the film and at first I found this a bit jarring, I wasn’t sure if he was meant to be the thoughts of a character or just an external narrator. Thankfully after a few scenes with his narration I be came accustomed to it and it was often quite useful really. As well as the narration I found the initial editing to be a bit choppy but it too manages to sort itself out as the film progressed. These are minuscule issues in the grand scheme of things and there’s enough to distract you from them not even to register. For example the music that features is so enjoyable and almost a constant feature in the film. It offers the right atmosphere for the film but also has a wonderfully calming affect on its audience.
As I’ve already mentioned ‘Café Society’ has a wonderful cast, the likes of Parker Posey, Corey Stoll, Ken Stott and Jeanie Berlin all play supporting characters here and do so very well. The four main leads are brilliant too. Steve Carell continues to show audiences that he is not just a comic actor, although he does have some of the funniest moments in the film. Kristen Stewart makes you completely forget her previous younger and less impressive performances by being wholly convincing in her role. Blake Lively also shows that she can do more than just fend off a humongous Great White shark, she is truly beautiful here and she conveys more and more of that promise that I first saw in ‘The Age of Adaline’ last year. Our leading man is the fantastic Jesse Eisenberg who is very much at home in the first part of the film playing charming but very awkward Bobby, it’s the development of the character which shows Eisenberg’s talent though. The entire cast have a great chemistry and the writing from Allen always allows for entertainment. The narrative holds quite a simple plot but it has plenty of substance and enough to make for an interesting film. It’s so good due to the combination of characters and often subtle comedy that’s included.
‘Café Society’ continues to increase my love for Allen’s film making and could be his recent best. Easily transporting audiences to 1930s LA and New York Allen creates such brilliant settings through music, production design and characters which are full of detail to enjoy. The cast all bring their characters to life in an entertaining fashion and each have distinct qualities that combine together to make for a superb narrative.
Rating – 9/10
Question: What is your favourite Woody Allen film?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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