Set in 1930s Hollywood and New York, when gals were glamorous and guys had guns, Café Society is sumptuously played out to an alluring and eclectic jazz soundtrack.
No Manhattan nor even Blue Jasmine this, but a sterling cast, with the deadpan Steve Carrell playing a blinder as the classic theatrical agent, wheeling and dealing in his element and wallowing in the gorgeously gold-plated days of Hollywood.
It was truly the time when legends were manufactured, not born and sky blue swimming pools were the beautiful backdrop for louche parties and swarms of waspish gossips. Meanwhile, the movie wannabes of the business they call show paraded like tottering Barbie gazelles, in front of the stalking predators from the studios.
Jesse Eisenberg plays the self-referencing Woody Allen character Bobby – the young Jewish guy from the Bronx – who heads west to seek out a start from his uncle (Carrell) and finds himself firstly overwhelmed, but then living the dream in California, before he cuts and runs back to the gangster- controlled Big Apple. His usual sidekick Kristen Stewart is not a personal favourite, but plays the paper thin plot she is given as Vonnie with verve. The casting of the huge talent that is Ken Stott as Bobby’s Jewish father is frankly bizarre, however.
Over-egged, over-written and as frankly silly as the Hollywood studio that makes its starlets wear real fur in the heat of Hollywood, what’s not to savour in the guilty pleasure of this Jazz Age champagne cocktail? And who wouldn’t love a movie that still has a milliner in its credits?
But don’t expect anything you haven’t already come across in the Allen oeuvre, try to resist matching similar moments from his other movies and shake off that nagging feeling that you have seen it all before (Broadway, Purple Rose et al). Definitely one to be consumed with candy floss and popcorn on the side.
by Liz Kennedy
at Movie House cinemas
Cafe Society (12A) sparkles at a fizzy 96 mins.