Movie Review: Café Society (2016)

imageAt this point watching Woody Allen’s late-career films is a mild act of punishment, and the auteur’s latest Café Society (D+) is a pretty package of nothing. It’s got all the elements of a Woody Allen but no pulse. Set in the Golden Age of Hollywood and Manhattan, the film wins points for art direction and costumes; but alas it’s all dressed up for going nowhere slowly. Jesse Eisenberg is a remarkably dull leading man who falls in love with two women named Veronica – one in L.A. at the start of his career and one in his native New York where he returns to run a nightclub. The two ladies are played by the better-than-expected Kristen Stewart and the pleasant but bland Blake Lively. Allen fails to build any sustained momentum for some mild subplots about love and infidelity and has very little new to say about his go-to subjects. Moreover, there’s precious little to care about about the protagonist’s would-be career either. Steve Carell barely registers as a glib movie mogul, although perhaps he’s as bored as the man behind the camera seems to be. The only surprise in the whole movie is that, despite the delight that it’s actually over, Allen also delivers an unsatisfying ending. When you’re left pining for that Woody Allen film starring Jason Biggs, you know you’ve hit pretty close to rock bottom.

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