Whatever I feel about Woody Allen’s personal actions, I have always and will be on board regarding his artistry. I think he is brilliant. I love his films. I love his humour – I get it. I love his writing. There are films of his I don’t like as much, but I still like them and never think they are a waste of my time. His latest film, “Café Society,’ is, in my opinion, one of his better ones – surprisingly romantic, elegantly written, directed with class.
In its heart, the film is a tragic love story, although you wouldn’t perhaps describe it as such. Jesse Eisenberg plays “Billy” and is the “Woody” character here – the nebby bumbling guy who gets the girls, and he is perfection, probably the best in the line of actors who have tried to Woody it up onscreen. His mannerisms, his tics, his voice – they all mirror the Woody aesthetic. Even Kristen Stewart, as Veronica, convinced me, and trust you me, she had to win me over three thousand times because I have this hatred of Stewart and his perma-scowl. But what do you know, she made me overlook my disdain for her.
Do I think the movie is perfect? Certainly not. The thin plot gets stretched, with some characters drawings of what Allen has done before – I read a review where the critic pointed out that Bill’s family seems to be the same characters from Allen’s 1987 film ‘Radio Days.’ But I do think that these familiar touches make me appreciate the film more, maybe it makes me feel like I am truly inside Allen’s world. And the costumes and sets are beautiful to look at, transforming you to 1930s Hollywood and New York effortlessly. The ending hits it just right for me – a melancholy, romantic one that will make you pine for the one that got away, if you have ever had one in your life. That alone will get a thumps for me.