Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Co-stars reunite for a twilight romance

BEST known for his late-Seventies hits Annie Hall and Manhattan, Woody Allen invites us to join

BEST known for his late-Seventies hits Annie Hall and Manhattan, Woody Allen invites us to join him a step away from his familiar territory of light-hearted romantic comedies with his newest film, Café Society.

Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now, The Last Emperor) here joins Allen for their first foray into digital film, where audiences are presented with the darker side of Thirties Hollywood culture.

Steve Carell plays movie industry power player Phil Stern, while Jesse Eisenberg — who also appeared in Allen’s To Rome with Love — plays Phil’s ambitious nephew Bobby Dorfman.

Bobby has come out to Hollywood for work, where he meets Phil’s secretary Vonnie, played by Kristen Stewart, and promptly falls head over heels for her.

This film is Eisenberg and Stewart’s third outing together, following hit 2009 comedy-drama Adventureland and flop 2015 action comedy American Ultra (both of their performances were praised, but the film wasn’t).

Sadly for Bobby, the course of true love fails to run smooth and, returning home to New York, he is recruited by his up-and-coming gangster brother Ben (Corey Stoll) to start a nightclub.

This move sees Bobby spun into the world of high society, a far cry from his family’s origins, but where he meets Veronica (Blake Lively, seen recently in The Shallows).

Eventually, as you might expect, Vonnie steps back into the picture at Bobby’s nightclub — but will they or won’t they?

Allen ensures the potential for romance is tainted by the gangster culture of the Bronx when Ben’s crimes catch up with him and he is tried for murder.

Café Society, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival this summer, is another example of Allen’s flair for romantic dramas exploring the complexities of relationships.

The writer-director manages to capture the essence of the addictive underworld operating beneath the surface of Hollywood-style glamour.

And the cast bring more than a hint of Allen’s comedic genius to their performances, meaning that for those who enjoyed Allen’s 2011 outing, Midnight in Paris, Café Society is likely an enjoyable must-watch.

Review: Joe Letts

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