Cast: Steve Carell / Kristen Stewart / Jesse Eisenberg / Blake Lively / Sheryl Lee / Ken Stott / Anna Camp.
Director: Woody Allen.
Content Rating: PG 13 for some violence and suggestive material.
In the 1930s, a Bronx native moves to Hollywood and falls in love with a young woman who is seeing a married man.
I have a confession to make: Before this film, I had never watched a Woody Allen film before.
To be honest, I don't even know that much about him and his film history.
But I plan to remedy that, and thus this film served as a solid introduction to his film making.
( *ticks item off list* )
From the very start of the movie we're swept away into the historical wealth of an era that largely reflects The Great Gatsby. Or that's what I thought, anyway. (This film is set in the 1930s, so I'm not too far off...). It's basically a parody of the era, though, and that became more apparent as the film went on.
Cafe Society danced on a fine line between between comedy and tragedy, but never reached the full potential of either. The humour was delightful, and the tragic undercurrents could have been very powerful, but the movie wavered between both themes and never fully addressed either. It wasn't as funny as it could have been, and the painful plot of Kirsten Stewart's character wasted its potential.
Visually, it was gorgeous. That's what I loved most about the movie. Every scene was stunning, tangible, and meticulously crafted so that the makeup of the actors, the costumes they were wearing, and the lightning and scene settings all contributed to create the perfect atmosphere. Everything was perfectly in sync; from the makeup, to the lighting, to the set pieces.
It was ravishing and rich and smooth.
The dialogue was witty and effortlessly sharp, but it left no time for the viewer to breathe (irony intended). It became exhausting, and bordered dangerously on becoming too witty and sharp; and thus unrealistic.
The cinematography was perfectly atmospheric, and the large cast of characters were all fully rounded and three dimensional.
Unfortunately, the movie lost itself somewhere along the way. It suffered a heavy dose of middle-movie syndrome.
The cast was, in general, excellent. Jesse Eisenberg was solid and so were the supporting cast, but while Steve Carell's comic timing was brilliant, I felt like he was miscast. His character belonged in another era, and while he felt like a parody of the stereotype the writers had avoided, it just didn't work.
(Carell portrayed the rich and indecisive lover who had left his wife for a younger girl).
Cafe Society is known for Stewart's performance. At one stage, it was even suggested that she might win an Oscar for her performance.
Quite honestly, I didn't see it. She was good and decent, but definitely not brilliant, and her "Twilight mannerisms" still remain. However, I did think she lit up the screen whenever she was present; not for her acting, but because she felt like a breath of fresh air.
I had one huge problem with this film: The ending was a cop-out. It ended without resolution, and came across like the writers had thought "wait, is this a tragedy or a comedy and what's the theme we're trying to put across? Oh well, let's end the film now because we can't decide..."
That's what it felt like.
Cafe Society was a lavish spectacle that shined with a stellar cast and provided an elegant and relaxing escape for viewers, but the story completely wasted its potential.
P.S. My favourite character was definitely Sari Lennick's character, Evelyn, who was the wife of that peacemaking husband who always preferred to reason, rather than use violence ;) She was such a strong, hilarious character, and an absolute delight to watch.