Director: Woody Allen Writer: Woody Allen Cast: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Hamish Linklater Runtime: 97 min Rating: PG-13
Earlier this year, demons of Woody Allen’s past resurfaced in the form of severe accusations which caused all kinds of reactions and responses in the world of film. While many started to criticize Woody’s actions and behaviour, many others maintained their respect and love for their well known director. Despite this controversy, this year has been a productive one for Allen, and with Magic in the Moonlight comes a new project that hopes to captivate audiences that are every day more critical of the people behind the camera.
Stanley (Colin Firth) makes his living as the celebrated Wei Ling Soo, an illusionist who captivates audiences all across Europe with his inexplicable tricks. After one of his shows, long time friend and fellow magician Howard (Simon Montagu McBurney) tells him about a so called psychic named Sophie (Emma Stone) who has been captivating the hearts of aristocrats in the South of France. A true man of reason and logic, Stanley is eager to travel to meet the young woman, in the hopes of finally shedding light on what he firmly believes to be a con artist. Too blinded by his own pride, Stanley fails to realize that this trip could change his views on everything he thought to be true, including love.
Musically and cinematographically Magic in the Moonlight is utterly delightful. The stunning scenery of Southern France is perfect to illustrate the lavish lifestyle of the aristocrats. The music not only aids in setting the right lighthearted and comedic mood to the film, but it keeps the spectator very entertained and lively. I would say that even the editing was delightful, and it sometimes reminded me of films made in the golden years of Hollywood, which further helped the immersion in the world of the film. The characters, although simple and predictable, are charming and perfectly suited for the frivolous environment they inhabit. I was especially impressed with Hamish Linklater, who plays Sophie’s dapper and oblivious suitor. I was always curious about his ability separate from sitcoms, and I believe this character suited him perfectly. Overall, my only complaints would be with Sophie, who despite showing promise as a woman, ends up taking a disappointing route that is all too common in Allen films. That, added to the questionable choice to make Colin Firth’s alter ego a pseudo Chinese man, were truly the only things that bothered me in an otherwise seamlessly entertaining venture.
While I do not admire Woody Allen as a person, and his body of work has not influenced my relationship with cinema in significant ways, I do understand the important contributions that his mind has made to film. However, when compared to other pieces in his body of work, Magic in the Moonlight is much too simple and all too forgettable, with a screenplay that I doubt will go down in history as one of his best. Both Emma Stone and Colin Firth perform in a somewhat lazy manner, and while I understand that this is a lighthearted film, their talents could have been used to develop much more interesting characters. Despite all this, the film’s bright soundtrack, as well as the beautiful cinematography make it a thoroughly good experience filled with fun and mindless entertainment.