Magic in the Moonlight

Making his bread and butter as world-famous magician Wei Ling Soo, Stanley is a rigid sceptic, believing the supernatural is pure trickery done with mirrors, strings and shysters.

When he is told about the unbelievable powers of a young American clairvoyant, he sets out to the south of France to prove she is not the real deal. So begins the predictable yet delightful romantic comedy Magic in the Moonlight.

Truly, the film poster says it all: a harmless rom-com starring a distinguished older man and a cute young woman, set in the nostalgic jazz era of the 1920s. Woody Allen loves these period pieces, and though this is no Purple Rose of Cairo or A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (it hasn’t the magic, despite the script being about the mystical), it’s what we might expect from a director who puts out a film a year. Not everything he does can have the Annie Hall stamp on it with an Oscar waiting in the wings, and so I call this film a “filler”.

Colin Firth is very good as the uptight British lead, but is that anything new? Emma Stone is childlike and merry, so she’s well-cast (with those big eyes) as Firth’s contradictory love interest, but I think even the biggest fans of Woody’s might be saying – maybe even screaming – “Enough with the older man / younger woman thing!”

If you look at his most successful films in the last 10 years (Blue Jasmine, Midnight in Paris, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Match Point), you’ll find that they don’t revolve around relationships with an age discrepancy at the core. I’m therefore led to believe that this film isn’t meant to be a serious contender in his moviemaking repertoire; it’s meant to be safe entertainment.

The costumes and set are a visual banquet, so I had no problem with all the lazing in the sun and the meanderings through the garden and the driving in flashy puttering automobiles along vertiginous coastlines. Woody Allen is, after all, an auteur and is cinematically good at what he does.

As per usual, the soundtrack is jazzy and charmingly so, adding to the atmosphere of wealth and frivolity in a more innocent age. And for added bonuses, Hamish Linklater and Australia’s own Jacki Weaver are both adorable as the love-struck serenading alternative to Firth and the naïve matriarch, respectively.




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