DIR/WRI: Woody Allen • PRO: Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum, Edward Walson DOP: Darius Khondji • ED: Alisa Lepselter • DES: Anne Seibel • CAST: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden
Woody Allen continues a routine which he’s more or less kept up for over 40 years, which is to write and direct a movie every year. This amazingly prolific output comes with some downsides however, mainly that the movies can be hit and miss. Last year’s Blue Jasmine was certainly a hit, owing a lot to Cate Blanchett’s Oscar winning performance. Unfortunately, this year’s effort Magic in The Moonlight must go down as a miss.
The storyline of the film, set in 1928, revolves around an American family who summer in the south of France, and who have become extremely taken with a young spirit guide named Sophie, who claims to be able to read peoples futures and contact the dead. Some close relatives of the family are convinced the girl is a con artist, and hire a well-known magician to catch her out. Unable to do so, the astounded magician recruits his world famous colleague Stanley Crawford, to find her out. Crawford, as well as being a world class magician is also a debunker of mystics. He is an extremely cranky and pessimistic man, but warms to Sophie despite himself, and starts to realise that maybe there is more to life than meets the eye.
Colin Firth is the latest delivery system for Woody’s pessimistic worldview, playing the lead role of Stanley Crawford who refuses to indulge in anything only the cruel harsh realities of life. It seems like a role that Allen would have played himself if he were younger, but Firth does his best with the material. Emma Stone is perfectly likeable and cute opposite Firth, although due to an uncharacteristically poor script, neither of the characters are drawn out well enough for us to care about them, or to believe in their romance.
Allen has made many soirees into Europe in the last 15 years, with some noticeable successes, including Midnight in Paris, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, and Match Point. This film will not join the ranks of the aforementioned films, but remains a watchable, and mildly amusing film, and will tick a lot of boxes for fans of Allen’s neurotic brand of romantic comedy. It just feels to me like something we’ve seen many times before.
PG (See IFCO for details)
Magic in The Moonlight is released 19th September 2014