After less celebrated films such as Magic in the Moonlight (2014) and Irrational Man (2015), Woody Allen surprises us with a quirky love triangle story that shows us that he still has some tricks up his sleeve. Café Society is a tribute to a ‘true’ love and the sweet bitterness of life.
Starting with Jazz music, the opening credits brings us to the 1930s in Hollywood. Bobby Dorfman’s (Jesse Eisenberg) dreams of going to Los Angeles where his uncle Phil (Steve Carell) manages an acclaimed talent agency in Hollywood. Bobby fantasizes about making it big there. However, his uncle seems to be very busy to take care of him. That is why Phil introduces Bobby to his secretary Veronica – or Vonnie as everyone knows her (Kristen Stewart). Vonnie shows Bobby new places in Hollywood and they spend a lot of time together. He immediately falls for her, but there is a problem. Vonnie has a boyfriend, and he is married and close to Bobby. Entangled in a romantic love triangle, Vonnie has to make a decision that will change not only her but also Bobby’s future. Bobby goes back to New York and opens a sophisticated nightclub with his gangster brother. Then, on an evening at the nightclub, Bobby falls in love with another Veronica – Veronica Hayes (Blake Lively). Nevertheless, Bobby still cannot forget Vonnie. One day, Bobby has an unexpected visit: his uncle Phil and Vonnie. After seeing each other once again, it seems that Bobby and Vonnie are unable to forget each other’s love.
With a magnificent casting, Café Society brings a graceful equilibrium between humour, sadness, and romance. Jesse Eisenberg – the guy from The Social Network (2010) and Zombieland (2009) – is perfect for the leading role, as his own charm of being a little neurotic and anxious suits as Allen’s alter ego. In Café Society, Kristen Stewart portrays a shy dreamy girl, and she delivers it quite well. The casting choice was the right one. Eisenberg and Stewart’s chemistry is amazing! You can almost feel what they feel. Not to mention the fantastic performance of Steve Carell and Blake Lively. Their roles are detailed and developed enough to give a sense of genuine characters without the need of telling unnecessary information. This makes their roles well-balanced throughout the story. Even the minor protagonists of Bobby Dorfman’s family are presented thoroughly and in a comic way only as the humour of Allen allows – as a Jew family living in the Bronx, New York.
The film is beautifully filmed in warm colours depicting a Californian sunny touch to it, which often exposes and unfolds the emotions of the protagonists. Café Society is a splendid film that shows us how love prevails even when you do not want it to, and at what risks. Forgetting is not only a matter of time, but also of given opportunities that allows us to forget.
Cover image: Screenshot Café Society – Bobby and Vonnie in Central Park.