Allen's latest take on love

Allen's latest take on love
You couldn’t have asked for a better film to open the festival than Woody Allen’s Café Society. In a way who’s better than Allen to capture the essence of ’30s Hollywood or New York, eh?

The story is simple: Bronx boy Bobby is not interested in his grumpy father’s crumbling small time jewellery business. Nor would he like to follow in the footsteps of his gangster brother. He lands in Hollywood and takes a few weeks to meet his uncle Phil, a busy and powerful agent in the film industry. He persists and gets slowly into the crazy world of film business. In the meantime, he falls in love with a girl who is in love with his uncle, without knowing anything about it. Despite being among glamour in Hollywood, Bobby always thinks of returning to New York.

When the love of his life decides to ditch him for his uncle, he returns to New York and starts running his brother’s café business. With help from his friends in Hollywood, this cafe prospers and he plays the perfect host, day in and day out, to the powerful and mighty. In course of time, he marries a lively divorcee but the flame for his first love is still burning to be rekindled when they meet again in his café.

Woody Allen said that he structured the film as a novel. As the novel needs narration, the filmmaker as the author of the novel decides to take on the job of the narrator in the film.

The film depicts several incidents in the lives of characters but always keep Bobby and Vonnie in focus. As is wont, Allen’s characters appear real. They are neither black nor white, but rather a million shades of grey. Bobby’s parents can be grumpy and forever quarrelling, but they are loyal to each other. His brother may be a gangster, but is always there for his family. His sister and brother-in-law are fond of each other, even though they prefer to argue and approach problems differently. Even uncle Phil is hard working and cares for his wife whom he is going to divorce in favour of a young secretary. Bobby and Vonnie are full of dreams and would like to continue to live in their dreams. Woody Allen refuses to portray any one of his characters as a villain.

In a dog eats dog industry, he was trying to capture the empty lives of his characters. Allen’s witty yet meaningful dialogues punctuate the entire film.

For the first time, Allen has shot his film on digital medium. According to him, it doesn’t matter which camera or medium are used, what matters is how the images appear. The cinematography by three-time Academy Award winning Vittorio Storaro is stunning and effectively captures the colours and shades of Hollywood and New York.

While the ensemble cast deserves appreciation, the performance by Jesse Eisenberg (Social Network) and Kristen Stewart sparkle. Great opener for a great film festival, indeed.

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