The thing about Woody Allen is that he is prolific. Every year, he turns out a movie and they often can surprise you. Cafe Society was no exception except that it surprised me in areas I didn't expect.
The movie is a story about a young man (Jesse Eisenberg) who goes to Hollywood during its Golden Age to make it big but falls in love with his uncle's mistress (Kristen Stewart) so he moves back to New York and hits pay dirt thanks to his gangster brother. Could be a great script, but it isn't. That is surprise number one.
Woody Allen is a great writer but he misfires with this script. The actors are great and keep it going best they can. Jesse Eisenberg actually channels a young Woody Allen in his performance. If you pay attention, you can see him react the way Allen did in his early movies and even his speech pattern reflects how Allen speaks. I found that amusing but the script oddly lacked humor.
Kristen Stewart - who is a great actress - doesn't seem to have a lot of material to work with here. It is a shame for she is a talent and can bring a lot to the screen when she has the material. Even with Steve Carell who is cast as the uncle, the story never goes more than skin deep with him. Like I said, the script is the weak link in this movie and for a Woody Allen film, that is surprising.
What does click in this movie are the costumes and sets. I won't be surprised if there is an Oscar nod for designers. The characters and sets were decked out for the era and wonderful to look at here. And of course, like all Allen films, there are some great jazz scores going in the background.
The movie isn't awful but I am glad I only paid $1.50 at Redbox instead of $12 at the cinema to see it. I hope Allen uses this cast again for another picture because it is obvious the greatness is there if he can give them the right vehicle. Cafe Society rates a 3 of 5 on my scale.