By Liz Lopez

Rating: B-

Two months after the Cannes Film Festival, the latest feature film written and directed by Woody Allen (Blue Jasmine) is Café Society, a romance drama with some humor mixed in to make for an enjoyable time at the cinema. Does it have a little bit of predictability with the love triangle? Well yes, but it is not enough for me to discourage any viewers from watching the film with some of my favorite actors, as well as becoming a fan of a couple in the film who have some great scenes. It is possible that if the film did not have the great cast attached to the film, the story might suffer and fall into the pool of the usual romantic comedy fare that I would say wait until it reaches the discount theater.

Jesse Eisenberg has portrayed many different characters and is an actor who I choose to follow with each great performance. In Café Society, he is Bobby Dorfman, a young man from the Bronx of modest means during the 1930s, with parents, Rose (Jeannie Berlin) and Marty (Ken Stott), who highly encourage him to leave New York. Eisenberg’s performance as a sweet, naïve and romantic young man is great and very convincing, as well as his look with the curly short hair and costumes designed for him and the cast by Suzy Benzinger. Eisenberg really looks star struck and starts to have a crush on a secretary he meets, “Vonnie” – Veronica (Kristen Stewart) when he seeks a job in Hollywood with his Uncle Phil (Steve Carell), a highly recognized agent to the stars. Bobby puts too much effort into romancing Vonnie, knowing she has a boyfriend and eventually, the burn from it leaves him scarred. I was a bit disappointed by the script at this point, as I had anticipated viewing more of Bobby’s character as he dealt with the pain of rejection instead of changing the scenery with him moving back to New York. This would have been better instead of Allen narrating the film.

Among the humorous scenes I won’t soon forget are between Bobby’s parents (Berlin and Stott), when they are talking about death. “I accept death, but under protest,” Dad says. “Protest to who?” Mom responds. These lines are memorable and so is the laughter my friend and I belted out at the theater.

During the story, the viewer learns why the parents may be so eager for Bobby to leave New York.  He has a charismatic brother, Ben (Corey Stoll), who is a gangster, yet tries to make his activities look clean when he opens up a nightclub. When Bobby returns from California, he returns with some credibility and knowledge of the business that jazzes up the joint. The New York friends he meets in the West, Rad Taylor (Parker Posey) and Steve (Paul Schneider), are powerful socialites that are an asset to him in many ways, including introducing him to a new Veronica (Blake Lively) that he marries and has his babies. Despite the successful and loving relationship they have, Bobby finds himself face to face with his first love and what might have been.

Café Society is rated PG-13 and the running time is 1 hour and 36 minutes. Café Society opens in Austin theaters July 29th at the Arbor Cinema at Great Hills and the Violet Crown Cinema.

Source: Amazon Studios and Lionsgate


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