#REVIEW: “MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT”
Woody Allen makes amazing Films. Yes, a blanket statement but undeniably more often true than not. Latest effort Magic in the Moonlight explores the Filmmaker’s life-long obsession with Magic and thanks to smart crafting and extraordinary performances, there certainly is no illusion that this ’20s-set Romantic Comedy is enchanting.
The Film centers on celebrated English Magician Stanley (Colin Firth), who arrives on the French Riviera, determined to expose a beautiful young Medium named Sophie as a fraud. Called-in to assist wealthy Widower Grace (Jacki Weaver) whom is left longing for closure after Husband passes, Sophie performs a series of Séances to help place her mind at ease. All the while, Stanley watches skeptically and Grace‘s Son Brice (Hamish Linklater) woos Sophie to a life of riches and security. Sophie continues to prove Stanley wrong with startlingly accurate visions, challenging him to re-evaluate everything he stands for and everything he has worked so hard to establish. Matters get complicated further as Stanley finds himself torn between his Fiancée Olivia (Catherine McCormick) and Sophie. Sophie likewise is torn between a future which holds everything she possibly could hope for with Brice, versus following her heart, which belongs to Stanley.
The chemistry between Firth and Stone – who admittedly on paper is an odd pairing – is scintillating. Allen understands love and romance rather well, but at once asks the right questions and explores the right implications to give the Story substance in addition to its brimming charm. He raises several thought-provoking sentiments, among them whether it is happier for us to live with lies as opposed to pursuing the truth relentlessly.
Stone‘s porcelain complexion and blank psychic stares are enamouring, shining brightness onto Firth‘s hardened skepticism. Eileen Atkins as Stanley‘s sensible Aunt Vanessa also puts forth a fantastic display here, peeling off a layer of his exterior bit by bit until ultimately he is reduced to his likable core. Elegant Cinematography by Darius Khondji (Se7en, Evita, Midnight in Paris) takes us away on a stunning escape with these complex Characters, whom all are powered by their innate desire for love.
Although Allen took us to deeper places with 2013’s superb Blue Jasmine, Magic in the Moonlight certainly holds its own as an engaging, lighthearted piece which is a bright spot among the Visionary’s extensive Body of Work.
Mongrel Media release MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT in Toronto and Vancouver on Friday, August 1, 2014.