The story of a young man who arrives in Hollywood during the 1930s hoping to work in the film industry, falls in love, and finds himself swept up in the vibrant café society that defined the spirit of the age.
Woody Allen has now made 51 movies, and so by now we have a rough idea what to expect. In his twilight years his recent movies continue to attract top notch actors, and his ear for conversation remains as sharp as ever. The humour may not these be quite as a laugh put loud funny as in his “early, funny films” as he noted in “Stardust Memories’ but he can still write a good one-liner. Bobby (Jesse Eisenberg) grows up in a New York Jewish family in the 1930s but as a young man dreams of Hollywood. He moves out to Los Angeles and gets a menial job working for his uncle Phil (Steve Carrell), a successful agent. He meets Veronica (Kristen Stewart) and becomes friends with her, and although he would like more than friendship she already has a mysterious journalist boyfriend (Doug) who travels a lot. As the pair spend more time together there is clearly a mutual attraction, but Doug remains an impediment. When Veronica and Doug’s relationship hits the rocks will Bobby convince Veronica to choose him over her existing lover, and is her journalist boyfriend quite what he seems?
The plot may be about the “will she, won’t she” relationship but the real love is between Allen’s camera and the 1930s Hollywood movie scene, as the action switches between gorgeous old movie theatres and Beverley Hills mansions, soft lit in the perpetual sunshine. The scenes between Bobby and has family when he returns to New York are the funniest, and as ever Allen is adept at wry observation. Eisenberg makes a convincing transition from awkward, nervous young man to confident nightclub owner, and Kristen Stewart manages to convey enough sense of mystery to be convincing as the central character, drawn to two very different men. The cinematography is lovely and although this film is not quite in the league of “Midnight in Paris” (another Allen film set in 1930s) it is nonetheless an agreeable enough outing.