I usually don’t like Woody Allen films but Café Society was good entertainment value. There were some genuinely funny lines. The costumes were superb. There is one scene where the mother of the Jewish family at the centre of the film is wearing the most wonderfully garish deep pile chenille house coat. She is complaining to her husband about the fact that their son a New York gangster on death row has converted to Christianity. I couldn’t take my eyes off that bathrobe.
For me the film was a chilling but important reminder of the role of women in the 1930s. Most of the female characters in the film are dependent on their relationships with men for their identity and are admired chiefly for their beauty. I also noticed that the children in the film are seen and not heard as they quietly watch the adults around them argue and express strong opinions. That was the role of children in by gone decades. Glad that’s changed.
There are famous movie stars in the film but what intrigued me is that they play roles very different from the ones you usually see them in. For example I most recently saw Blake Lively in the survivor film The Shallows where she battles a shark with strength and intelligence all on her own. In this film she is a vulnerable divorcée recovering from some bad experiences with men and is portrayed as a dependent woman eager for her second husband’s approval.
The film is about the age-old story of choosing a marriage partner and then spending the rest of your life wondering if you should have chosen someone else. Anne Tyler explores it well and a little more realistically than Woody Allen in her novel Back When We Were Grownups. In Café Society it’s a bitter-sweet way to exist and for many people that’s probably true.
I admit part of the reason I don’t like Woody Allen is because of the choices he has made in his personal life. I know that sometimes you have to separate the art from the artist and for some reason on Tuesday night while I watched Café Society I was able to do that.
Other posts about movies…….