Translated by – GIULIA CUCARI


It is a known fact that Woody Allen’s cinema is a ménage of topics, ironies and recurring atmospheres, an amalgam of style, refrains, aesthetics and real surrealisms which make Woody Allen, Woody Allen. All the poetics and hyperbolic dramas of its own author focus on the screen, through bodies and mouths which always are the same character who changes narration and location – but never its skin. Therefore, every movie is the disguised version of the director himself, a brilliant narrator of the depth that feebleness, fate or dream could reach.


And, in this sense, Cafè Society is not an exception.


Picture it- we’re in the glossy, lively Thirties between the Hollywood-dream L.A., Olympus of God-actors, and the NYC of gangst(a)rs and wealthy snobs, who drink watered down cocktails and bite their shiny teeth and lipstick-greased lips into several business brunches (aka gossip). All between a displayed ubiquitousness and a fake belle époque that has no nobility to boast and the Depression and the thirst of Prohibition behind.

It is in this fascinating ballad of superficial beauties and vain-glories that the main character, Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg), is set: he’s a young Jew who strives for that stardust that will not only be unreachable, but will also cover him with incompetence and vulnerability. Even moving to Hollywood is not enough, in order to get a job by his Uncle Phil (Steve Carell), a sharp and well-known stars’ agent, the kind of man who is not only esteemed by esteemed people, but is also the lover of Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), the young secretary Bobby will fall in love with. This bittersweet triangle gets Bobby back to the New York that abandoned him and will lead him to work with his gangster brother Ben, manage a refined and stylish nightclub and marry a different woman, whose name is Vonnie, too. The Café Society is served, dancing in the night between jazz, vanity, libertinism and elegance. Here Bobby is finally that “Someone” everybody knows, even though all he does is struggling among all those Martinis and Champagne that will eventually swallow him when a married-to-Uncle-Phil-but-still-dreamy-about-Bobby’s-past-affection Vonnie will suddenly appear.

The usual -and overused- plot about lovers, forsaken and disenchanted is powerfully dominated by imagery, photography and the very aesthetic of the movie, the first Allen has filmed in digital. There are a lot of details, countless quotes and homages -such as a framed letter by Rodolfo Valentino– between a quote from Socrates and the inevitable irony about God and Judaism; costumes are polished and the dreamlike and neurotic stereotypes of those years -which unwillingly foreshadowed WWII and Hitler’s come to power- are spread all over.

This is a movie that looks like the torment and euphoria of Fitzgerald’s descriptive style, a movie that stages passion, glossy beauty, ephemeral and empty vanity.

Despite a certain feebleness in the dialogues (which do not excel in cleverness), it is a movie that has to be seen thanks to its strong visual characterization.


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