Directed and written by Woody Allen, Magic in the Moonlight rotates around Stanley, a rational man who believes in rational things, who’s sent to debunk a self-professed clairvoyant in the Cote D’Azur on the French Riviera.
The film is comprised of witty and intelligent dialogue, as one expects from Allen. His new comedy has at its centre the misanthropic and egotistical Stanley (Colin Firth), who has no recognition of anything outside the realms of reality, even though he is in the Magic business. Sophie Baker (Emma Stone) is the seemingly naturally talented clairvoyant that has captivated the attention of young serenading Brice and his wealthy mother. He denounces her abilities until she wows him with knowledge of his past and secrets she could never know, leading to him beginning to believe in the possibility of a spiritual world.
The film continues Allen’s recent fascination with European settings and characters. Over the last few years Allen has ventured over the pond for, To Rome With Love, Midnight In Paris and Vicky, Christina, Barcelona. However, the scenery plays a bigger role in this film. There are points where the aesthetic elements are more interesting than the story; outfits, cars, scenery and a catchy 20’s soundtrack play pivotal roles in captivating interest.
Besides the captivating 20s attire, the characters and story are a tad insipid. Firth’s Stanley is an ultimately crude and an unsympathetic character. Even though I know he’s supposed to be a cynic, I found him hard to relate to. Stone as well is quite dry and disengaging as Sophie. Unfortunately Stone and Firth fail to fully captivate their audience with their chemistry. He is too loud and assertive for her plain character, and it does not appear plausible that they would be matched.
In comparison, Magic in the Moonlight has a hard time standing up to the moving piece of cinema that was Allen’s last film Blue Jasmine. The captivating aesthetic elements and some witty repartee are the films highlights. The script evokes a few laughs but not enough to fix the films other flaws.
MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT OPENS IN NZ CINEMAS FROM AUGUST 28.
Reviewed by Therese Murdoch