The main reason I enjoy travelling by bus, rather than by train, is because it takes longer. This gives me the opportunity to listen to more things, mostly podcasts. On the recent four hour bus journey I took, I listened to the Marc Maron podcast with Billy Crystal. During this two hour chat they discussed how growing up in New York made Woody Allen’s new film every year very important. This is something that I can relate to, because the filmmaker has a stain on me that will never go away. Therefore I was very much looking forward to seeing his new film ‘Cafe Society’, which I liked. That’s a lot of context.
Finding a starting point for this is tough, because I came out of this film feeling very Woody Allen-ed. That’s a term that you will only be familiar with if you have seen a decent amount of his films. ‘Cafe Society’ is a nice film, it plods along, dipping into subject matter slightly darker or twisted every now and again, but mostly finds it’s weight floating on chemistry. This is chemistry between characters, though also throughout the flow of the settings. I’m hoping at least some of this makes sense.
Jesse Eisenberg’s character ‘Bobby’ is almost intolerable. Thankfully a sweetness in him comes when he is put together with Kristen Stewarts character ‘Vonnie’. As the film goes on their scenes are the highlight, that I believe comes from some mystic connection between them. Allen’s dialogue is as usual extremely pleasant, however Eisenberg’s and Stewarts’ bind creates the joy of their scenes. Their characters change with the running time, yet their chemistry stays constant, even if they become complete fools. Despite all this, the strongest connection between characters comes in an odd place. This is with ‘Bobby’ and Blake Lively’s ‘Veronica’, and this is strange because ‘Veronica’ is effectively used as a pawn for ‘Bobby’. Consequently it becomes an indication of how Eisenberg’s character grows, as is confidence shines through in this relationship. And thus ‘Veronica’ is seduced by it all, and the balance of the characters is created. I also think it comes from how wonderful Lively is in this film, and she is a lovely addition to the second half of the picture.
Another welcome addition to the film is the club, as this is where the chemistry of setting is prominent. Suddenly, bright lights, and a contemporary colour palette is thrown into the cinematography. Allen crafts a booming setting, that is equally shallow as it is glossy. Thankfully the lack of depth is hidden by a fluid camera and by placing the protagonist ‘Bobby’ in the middle of it all. From there the jigsaw comes together, and there is a satisfying watch as our now established characters weave there way through this one layer work of art. And this could be a new side of Woody Allen, which isn’t bad considering he’s been making films since 1965.
Side-note: I didn’t love this film, I just liked it. Though once again I have been blinded by my admiration for Woody Allen, and was romanced by it all.