steve carell

FILM REVIEW: Woody Allen’s “Cafe Society”

The director's 45th feature film revisits familiar themes through a story set in glamorous 1930s Hollywood.

For his 45th movie, Woody Allen has once again retreated to the safety of yesteryear, a simpler time when a man could have a girlfriend 20 years his junior without anyone noticing. “Cafe Society,” set mostly in Hollywood in the late 1930s, is typical 21st-century Woody: pleasant, though not particularly funny; a bit melancholic, though not emotionally affecting; likable though not memorable. Woody Allen is now our most prolific producer of cinematic shrugs.

Allen serves as narrator this time, using Jesse Eisenberg as his onscreen avatar, at least at first. Eisenberg plays Bobby Dorfman, a Bronx kid who comes to L.A. hoping to get a job with his uncle Phil Stern (Steve Carell), a self-important, high-powered Hollywood agent. Uncle Phil has his secretary, Vonnie (Kristen Stewart), show Bobby around town, and the two become friendly. But Vonnie says she has a boyfriend, a journalist who travels frequently, leaving Bobby to pine for her.

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