These days a new Woody Allen film does not necessarily mean a good film. And depending on your taste, you might like some more than others. (Am I the only person who hated Midnight in Paris?) Some could not stand his American (mostly Manhattan/New York) films and only got interested by his British, Paris and Rome work. Café society takes place in the 1930s in the Bronx, New York and Los Angeles, California. Phil Stern (Steve Carell) is a Hollywood agent, and he gets a phone call from his sister Rose Dorfman (Jeannie Berlin), who lives in the Bronx. Rose wants her brother Phil to find a job for her youngest son, Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg). Bobby flies to L.A. where he will work in the mailroom. Bobby meets Phil’s secretary, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart). Vonnie is short for Veronica. Bobby is attracted to Vonnie, but she tells him that they can only be friends because she is seeing another man called “Doug”. “Doug” is actually Uncle Phil. Phil tells Vonnie he’s going to divorce his wife. Meanwhile in New York, Bobby’s older sister, Evelyn (Sari Lennick), and her husband, Leonard (Stephen Kunken), are having problems with their bully neighbor. Evelyn mentions their problems to Ben, her gangster brother. When Bobby comes back to New York he marries a girl also called Veronica (who, of course, he calls Vonnie). Years later, when Uncle Phil and the original Vonnie visit New York, she and Bobby start having an affair. This romantic labirynth in narrated by Woody Allen himself. This is a very good ensemble cast, except for Eisenberg, who plays with too much mannerism. He becomes an erratic, annoying dork. Kristen Stewart fares much better than her co-star. She seems confident that the material is sufficient, and offers us a character without over playing the situations. I also liked Sari Lennick as the complaining sister. I had not seen actress Jeannie Berlin since her Oscar nominated turn in the 1972 comedy The heartbreak kid. It is nice to see her in fine comedic form as steals the film from everyone. Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography is consistently beautiful. This the most gorgeous Woody Allen film in years, and this is the first time Allen filmed in digital. So, not one of his best or one of the funniest, but not a total disaster.
Rated Parental Guidance