I would assume that most big fans of Woody Allen long for the days when his movies were exceptionally funny as well as well told stories. Good examples of this would be Annie Hall, Manhattan, and Hanna and her Sisters. These examples of great Allen movies seem to be very far in the past now, perhaps due to his age or his extremely difficult personal life which seems to always come up after a few years, most recently at the Canne’s Film Festival. I for one am amazed at Woody Allen’s ability now at age 81 to write and direct a movie at a rate that is at least once a year especially when you add the stress of what people have been saying about his personal life since 1992. For over 30 years Woody Allen has been the captain of his own ship and has been able to write direct and produce his own movies his own way with his own company, with the new production company for this movie Amazon Studios. This ability to do everything his way for so long is probably unprecedented in the history of movies and because of this several all time movie classics have been created.
This new movie Cafe Society, is really two completely different movies that are not connected at all. One is a love triangle involving the main character played by Jessie Eisenberg and the other is about the Mafia-like criminal acts of his brother who during the movie kills about 4 people and places them into the same cement sidewalk. I thought it was very unusual that Allen would have two disconnected main and sub-plots in one movie, which is something that I have rarely if ever seen in any film that I can remember and this idea really does not work very well in this story.
The other actors in the love triangle include Steve Carrel who plays an important Hollywood producer and Kristen Stewart who plays his secretary. At first, the relationship between Carrell and Stewart is going to result in his leaving his wife to marry her and then he changes his mind and after that breakup Stewart’s character gets involved with Eisenberg only to have Carell change his mind again, leaving Eisenberg the odd man out who then returns to New York city.
One of the best and telling parts of this movie is when Carell and Stewart, now married, return to the nightclub Eisenberg is running in New York City with an attitude of total callousness, not caring for a moment how Eisenberg might react when he sees them together. This seemed like real life to me as I have often been amazed at the callousness and indifference some people can have concerning the feelings of others. After the breakup with Stewart, Eisenberg’s character met and married another woman, played by Blake Lively and they quickly had a child together. It seemed a little far-fetched that Eisenberg’s character would be able to get involved with two very attractive women at this level, considering his very average looks, so this part of the movie seemed to be a bit far-fetched. As this story and love triangle progressed there would be more scenes that involved Eisenberg’s Mafia brother and more murders, even involving a rude next door neighbor that felt very out of the place and had nothing to do with the main plot of this movie. For most movies sub-plots always have some kind of a related connection to the main plot but not in this film which I found to be highly unusual.
Cafe Society is not a bad movie but not really a good one either. I would have rather seen this same film with much more humor involved, maybe even including Allen himself as one of the characters and in this movie and he was the main narrator at certain points of the story. There are not too many laughs during this movie and the story seemed to be nothing special so for these reasons I cannot recommend Cafe Society.