Woody Allen's latest offering is a gorgeously filmed love story mixed in with a rather anonymous gangster side plot. The film is just about still worth seeing for Vittorio Storaro's sun-kissed vintage Los Angeles, but there are longueurs.
The central love triangle is between Kristen Stewart's "Vonny" - a young secretary in a relationship with a married powerful Hollywood agent, played by Steve Carell. He struggles with leaving his wife and kids for her - but eventually does. Only by this point, Vonny has also fallen in love with the agent's nephew Bobby, played by Jesse Eisenberg. Together, these kids have gently mocked the superficiality and rapaciousness of Hollywood, reflecting Allen's own antipathy to Tinseltown. He is, then, shocked when she opts for the life of a rich Hollywood wife. The story is then one of two people whose lives are destined to intersect, who love each other, but aren't with each other, and the profound loneliness that this choice brings. It's very well acted and touching.
The problem is that story is cut through with one about Bobby's family back home in New York. His big brother is a gangster who runs the nightclub that Bobby goes on to run. To my mind, this sub-plot features two-dimensional characters mainly there to deliver the occasional witty one-liner. It's a waste of Corey Stoll's talent to cast him as the brother. And I also felt rather sorry for Blakey Lively, cast as Bobby's earnest but one-note wife.
CAFE SOCIETY has a running time of 96 minutes and is rated PG-13. The movie played Cannes 2016 and was released earlier this year in France, Israel, Thailand, the USA, Russia, Canada, Lithuania, Poland, Turkey, Estonia, Brazil, Greece, Spain and Taiwan. It opened this weekend in Argentina, Australia, the UK and Ireland. It opens on September 8th in Singapore; on September 14th in South Korea; on September 29th in Hong Kong and Italy; on October 7th in Finland and Sweden; on October 20th in Portugal and on November 10th in Germany.