Cafe Society DVD Reviewed By David Sims

The Premise
Café Society follows Bronx-born Bobby (Eisenberg) as he travels to Hollywood and lands a job working for his uncle Phil (Carell), a high-powered agent in the movie business. There he falls hopelessly in love with his uncle’s secretary, Vonnie (Stewart). Vonnie has a boyfriend, so Bobby settles for friendship, until her breakup offers him the chance to kindle a romance between them.

The Review
There are two kinds of people reading this: Woody Allen Fans and Woody Allen Non-Fans.

First, for the Non-Fans: This is not a good movie. It pains me to have to report this, I take no pleasure in it. Allen has done movies you like, such as Vicky Cristina BarcelonaBlue Jasmine and Midnight In Paris, but this is not one of them. Unless you really have a thing for 1930s café society, skip it.

Okay, you can stop reading now.

Fellow Fans, the news is grim. This is The Curse of the Jade Scorpion without the zany plot, To Rome With Love without the loose, fun Italian vibe. It’s Allen without any fresh ideas or juicy roles -- most Allen movies, good or bad, have at least one memorable performance. None here. Parker Posey is lively and interesting, she’s earned a bigger role and better script next time.

The dialogue sounds like Allen mistook the first draft for the shooting script. You can’t blame the acting for being so perfunctory when the good, solid cast is given so little of interest to do or say. Yes, the cinematography and 1930s sets, music and costumes are top shelf, it is Woody Allen after all. So if that’s why you go to movies, there’s that. Honestly, all else aside, they’re superb.

The early Jewish hooker scene is classic Woody comedy. Corey Stoll as tough Jew gangster Ben is refreshing, there’s a pleasant and lush evening in Manhattan sequence towards the end. Beyond that, pickings are slim. Unfortunately there’s zero on-screen chemistry between Eisenberg and Stewart in a plot that relies on just exactly that to work. Lacking that, it all falls flat.

The Verdict
The worst sin of Café Society is that it’s as beautiful, superficial and boring as the beautiful, superficial and boring people it depicts. For Allen diehard completists only.

The Trailer

The Info
DVD Releases: 18th January 2017
Rating: Rating
Duration: 96 minutes 
Genre:  Comedy Drama
Starring: Steve Carell, Jeannie Berlin, Jesse Eisenberg, Blake Lively, Parker Posey and Kristen Stewart.

Director: Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris, Blue Jasmine)