13 May 2016.
CAFE SOCIETY ****
Is there a yearning in the corner of Woody Allen’s heart? In fact, don’t we all have a secret longing buried deep in our hearts?
That’s the magic of Woody’s genius, when he gets it just right. He touches our emotions, connecting with each of us, with a lightness, humor and intelligence that is a delight. He reveals his own feelings and where he’s at – in the dialogue and the scenario. One film a year – many masterpieces, a few duds – since 1966! And this latest is one of those sublime ones which will remain with us.
A young man (Jesse Eisenberg) fed up with his family life in NY decides to move to Hollywood and look up his uncle (Steve Carrel), a top agent in the film industry. It is the 1930s and California is every fellow’s dream. Despite being shy, he falls for a secretary (Kristen Stewart) at his uncle’s office, though she already has a beau. But he is smitten and patient. In the meantime we are witness to the lavish parties and shallow lifestyle of the rich and famous in Tinseltown.
Back home in New York, his extended family has its own complications – a nagging mother, an over-confident gangster brother, an aunt and intellectual uncle who have a belligerent neighbor… Oy vey, you don’t want to know…
Allen has concocted here a hilarious Jewish family with stereotypes that he polishes to such perfection that in his hands clichés become comic gems. He knows his people well and relishes their idiosyncrasies. He manoeuvres his tale with such craftiness that we delight at each twist of the plot. In the meantime he’s brought our earnest hero back to New York, where we are fully into the “cafe society” of the era.
The rest is for you to discover for yourselves – and I’m going back to see it again!
Superb **** Very Good *** Good ** Mediocre * Miserable – no stars
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.