Title: Café Society

Director: Woody Allen

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Kristen Stewart, Steve Carell, Blake Lively, Parker Posey and Corey Stoll

Sentimentally pursuing your dreams, and wholeheartedly believing that you can overcome any obstacle that challenges you along the way, is an idealistic process that can become increasingly impractical as you can garner more experience. As people garner more knowledge in the society they wish to obtain success in, they often realize that the culture isn’t as captivating as they initially believed. That’s certainly the case in the new romantic comedy-drama, ‘Café Society.’ Writer-directer Woody Allen’s latest independent art house film is one of the Academy Award-winner’s most alluring and captivating efforts in recent years, as he stunningly showcases how the pain of not obtaining your true dream transcends through all eras.

Lionsgate and Amazon Studios will unveil the romantic comedy-drama in a limited theatrical release in New York and Los Angeles this Friday. The studios will then distribute ‘Café Society’ in more select cities on July 22, before it opens wide on July 29. The compelling art house film’s nationwide distribution comes after it opened the Cannes Film Festival on May 11, and then kicked off the Seattle International Film Festival on May 19.

Set in the 1930s, ‘Café Society’ follows Bronx-born Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg) as he moves across the country to Hollywood, where he hopes to fulfill his dream of working in the film industry. The sincere, albeit sometimes innocent and naive, Bobby no longer finds fulfillment working in the jewelry store owned by his father, Marty (Ken Stott), in New York, so he begins working for his Uncle Phil (Steve Carell), who’s a high-powered agent. Since he knows few people in Los Angeles, Phil’s charming assistant, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), quickly begins showing Bobby around the city. He quickly begins to develop romantic feelings for his new co-worker, but Vonnie gently rebuffs his advances, as she reveals that she already has a boyfriend.

After Vonnie’s boyfriend breaks up with her, Bobby’s new friends, Rad (Parker Posey), who owns a model agency, and her husband Steve (Paul Schneider), who’s a wealthy producer, encourage him to pursue a romance with Vonnie. She ultimately returns his affections. When he later asks her to marry him and move back to New York with him, she is tempted, but things do not go as he has planned, as she eventually ends their romance.

Heartbroken, Bobby returns to New York, where he begins working for his gangster brother, Ben (Corey Stoll), who used his influence to gain ownership of a nightclub. With his natural talents, Bobby helps turn the club into the hottest spot in the city. While back in New York, he’s also introduced him to a beautiful socialite, Veronica (Blake Lively), by Rad, and he persistently courts her. Although he’s still carrying a torch for Vonnie, when Veronica reveals she’s pregnant, they marry and begin a genuinely happy life together.

Much like his acclaimed 2011 Oscar-winning romantic comedy-fantasy film, ‘Midnight in Paris,’ Allen expertly crafted another a powerfully romantic tale of personal and professional dreams the complex characters wish will never die, despite the emotional challenges they encounter. Much like Gil, the idealistic and well-meaning protagonist in ‘Midnight in Paris,’ Bobby is forced to confront the shortcomings of his relationship with his fiancée, as well as their conflicting goals.

Much like its spiritual predecessor, ‘Café Society’ stunningly explores themes of nostalgia, as Bobby remains emotionally connected to Vonnie, even after they end their engagement. Even after they painstakingly realize they have different aspirations in life, and both move on to other seemingly stable marriages, he still relatably yearns to be with her, and wishes they could have found a way to make their romance work.

After previously working together on the acclaimed 2009 comedy-drama, ‘Adventureland,’ in which their characters also form a romantic connection, Eisenberg and Stewart effortlessly rekindled their on-screen connection in ‘Café Society.’ The Academy Award-nominated actor brilliantly encompassed Bobby’s sincere affections for Vonnie, as well as his innocence of not being familiar with how romances worked during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Despite their mutual affinity for each other and her genuine distraught over hurting Bobby, Stewart also instinctively infused Vonnie with a strong desire to move up the Hollywood social latter, and seized the perfect opportunity to do so after they ended their romance.

‘Café Society’ is an enthralling love letter to the movie stars, socialites, executives and dreamers who epitomized the excitement and glamour of the Golden Age of Hollywood. Through the captivating performances given by Eisenberg and Stewart, Allen’s latest romantic comedy-drama is another stunning love letter to honoring the nostalgia of an earlier, and seemingly perfect, era. Despite the fact that both Bobby and Vonnie move onto new romances and ultimately hold contrasting views on life, their love story is a deeply romantic tale of dreams that never die.

Technical: B

Acting: A-

Story: B+

Overall: B+

Written by: Karen Benardello

Café Society Movie Review

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *