I’d have to call Woody Allen’s latest film a trifle, a bauble. Which doesn’t mean it’s no good. It’s just that the visuals, the locations and cars and costumes, are really of more interest to me than the actual plot. And wow, they are terrific! Woody really was born at the wrong time. He should have been an adult right about here in the 1930s, because it’s clear he loves everything about this era, especially the music.
Jesse Eisenberg is the nephew of Steve Carrell, a high-powered Hollywood agent, whose secretary is Kristen Stewart. They are both in love with her, but Jesse doesn’t know that Steve has been having an affair with her. Steve, unable to leave his wife, dumps her and she takes up with Jesse. But when Steve has a change of heart, she goes back to him, and Jesse finally learns who his rival has been. He goes back to Manhattan and joins up with his gangster brother, and ends up running one of those super-swanky nightclubs where everyone goes to “be seen.” He marries a nice girl and they have a baby. There are many other characters and plot complications, but it all boils down to whether or not Jesse and Kristen will get back together. I won’t say how that works out, but I think it was the best way.
I have to confess to a certain dislike of Eisenberg. This is a totally prejudiced feeling on my part. I can’t justify it except to say that something about him just rubs me the wrong way. That happens sometimes. But he is the perfect surrogate for Woody Allen, now that the Woodman has grown far too old to play romantic leads, even with his step-daughter. And Kristen Stewart is a total mystery to me. “Wooden” is usually the best thing I can say about her performances. She’s a little more animated here, but basically still a stiff. I guess she makes it on her looks, which are extraordinary, and from fans of that awful Twilight series.