Cafe Society (2016)

Directed by Woody Allen
Country: USA

“Café Society” is the new cinematic creation of Woody Allen, who moves like a fish in water in another comedy, set in New York and L.A. in the 30’s, which sparks with a bittersweet romance.

Jesse Eisenberg is Bobby Dorfman, a smart and curious young Jew born and raised in New York, who lives with his hilarious parents, Rose (Jeannie Berlin) and Marty (Ken Stott), and his gangster brother, Ben (Corey Stoll), who thrives with illicit actions and nightclub businesses. There’s also a married older sister, Evelyn (Sari Lennick), who lives in her own house with her easygoing husband, Leonard (Stephen Kunken).
Not imagining himself working for his indolent jeweler father for the rest of his life, Bobby decides to leave behind the city of jazz and mobsters and move to Los Angeles, city of celebrities and movie stars. To succeed in his new adventure, he expects a little hand from his influential uncle, Phil Stern (Steve Carell), a wealthy man whose contacts range from Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire to Barbara Stanwyck.

While waiting a few days to talk with his busy uncle, the lonely Bobby decides to call for a prostitute, but the encounter proved to be a mistake in many ways. It’s with the attractive young Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), assigned by uncle Phil to show him the city, that Bobby will find not only a good company but also true love. However, big difficulties knock on his door since Vonnie has a mysterious and always-absent boyfriend who happens to be Bobby’s uncle.
Amidst several indecisions, Phil resolves to divorce from his wife. Now, it’s up to Vonnie to make her move: is she going to marry Phil, guaranteeing a comfortable life? Or is she going to marry Bobby and move to New York with him?
Choices in life have always a price, and Bobby returns to New York to become a successful entrepreneur and find another Veronica (Blake Lively) to share his life with.

As it is prevalent in Mr. Allen’s work, the film is pelted with swinging jazz tunes (the melody of “Manhattan” keeps running in my head), exhibiting a strong cinematography along with a valuable production design and set direction. Wrapped in nostalgia and humor, “Café Society” overcomes “Magic in the Moonlight” and “Irrational Man”, the previous movies by Mr. Allen, which didn’t evince the same levels of charm and wit. It also benefits from a glittering chemistry between Eisenberg and Stewart. Still, I ended up waiting for something deeper than what the ending suggested.