In 1930s America, a young New Yorker called Bobbie (Jesse Eisenberg) moves to Hollywood where he falls hopelessly in love with the secretary of his powerful uncle, an agent for the big and famous. After returning home to New York, he is sucked into the vibrant and moneyed-up world of high society nightclub life where he gets to mingle with all the stars, politicians, officials and the more shady types like your local gangsters, who call themselves businessmen. Café Society is a grand look at American high society during the 1930s. It’s a very amiable and charming period comedy drama filled with wonderful set pieces, costume and hair/make up as well as jaw dropping shots of New York City.
Cafe Society is a tribute to the Hollywood Golden Age of the 1930s. The movie gives us great performances from Kristen Stewart (American Ultra) and Jesse Eisenberg (Batman V Superman). This is another performance added to Eisenberg’s growing resumé of excellent performances. Bobbie Dorfman (Eisenberg) is the youngest son of a Jewish family in 1930s New York. He has an elder sister called Evelyn (Sari Lennick) who is a school teacher and is married to Leonard (Stephen Kunken), a humanist, but also a proud, philosophical, profound and depressed communist. We also have Ben Dorfman (Corey Stoll), a John Dillenger-esque gangster giving The Bronx a good run around. Bored working at his father’s (Ken Stott) jewellery store, Bobby moves to Hollywood where he takes a job running tedious errands for his uncle Phil (Steve Carell), a successful actor’s agent.
Bobbie goes to Hollywood and subsequently falls in love with Uncle Phil’s assistant Veronica (Stewart) but not before we witness Phil’s looks of annoyance when he has to deal with the inconvenience of find a job for his nephew. Bobbie, with his rabbit-in-the-headlights persona, is half-bored and half-interested in Hollywood. Veronica is tasked with showing Bobby the sites, sounds and smells of this concrete jungle. The more time they spend together, the more in love Bobbie becomes. But Bobby’s love life is cut short when he has to return to New York and there he works in his brother’s nightclub, a mob operation run by Ben (Stoll), a gangster with a knack for killing his associates and filling the graves with concrete.
Everything that’s wrong with capitalism is evident in Café Society. Come on! It’s Hollywood, where the rich and powerful show of the finery and trinkets like it’s a museum display. This is all the name-dropping of famous folk and making dates for lunches that you never intended to attend, in addition to stringing people along like dogs. Ego is at the beating heart of Hollywood, especially with the stars. It’s essentially a dick swinging contest. The more our Bobbie sees Hollywood, the more he misses New York. People aren’t as tricky in the Big Apple and you don’t have to pretend to be someone else. Hollywood is full of fake personalities with people consistently putting on a facade to get things. Hollywood is a place of getting, getting, getting. Even to be nice for the sake of being nice is few and far between.
In terms of aesthetics, Café Society is polished. It is gleaming from the vintageness of the periodness to it. I was sucked into the awesomeness of the costume, the set but also the music that was played in the clubs and the musical score too. It’s a very funny movie with many examples of questionable jew jokes, political satire and oneliners that can kill. One of my favourite lines was when one characters says “You have never heard of me. I am a writer.” I did suffer a chuckle. The film imitates real life in the way that things happen and sometimes there’s nothing we can do about it.. Some good, some bad; but eventually, we have to move on and put the them behind us. We create new experiences, and Bobbie does this when he meets another Veronica (Blake Lively) after his heartbreak in Hollywood.
Eisenberg is excellent as Bobby, giving a good transition from boy to man, which also shows a sturdy script in terms of character development from Woody Allen. He comes to be very like his Uncle Phil (Carell) but not to the point that he has forgotten his heritage and roots hence becoming a little engrossed in the Hollywood highlife with greed and money with many other flirtations that occur with the abuse of capitalism. I revelled in the rapport between Jesse Eisenberg and Blake Lively (The Shallows). Blake Lively was born to the period genre and gives a first rate performance as Vonnie (Number two).
All in all, this a wonderful movie filled with great set pieces, costumes to kill, witty dialogue and awesome performances from all the cast. From writers to filmmakers to photographers to poets, people in the arts industry or those who dabble in it, will love this movie. But this is a film that film fans and casual fans alike will love. This is a great story that all of us will find some grounding in, and I am not talking about the concrete.