★★, Reviews
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Magic in the Moonlight

magicinthemoonlight

  • Directed by: Woody Allen
  • With: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden
  • 97 Minutes

Although he has some ups and downs, we all can agree that Woody Allen is a master of romance and that he is one of the few directors capable of bringing the magic of love to the big screen. Apparently he decided to take advantage of that by directing a movie about magic and love but after his most recent hits, Blue Jasmine and Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen has set the bar really high for this one. I was expecting something exciting and lovely and perhaps that wasn’t good to seize the best out of the movie. With a great cast and based in my opinion on his previous movies, the chances of not enjoying this one were low but, unfortunately Woody Allen failed to impress me. Although I enjoyed a bit the movie there were some things in it that made it look a bit dumb and cheesy. So, before I start my analysis on Magic in the Moonlight here’s a summary of the story.

Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth) was the most celebrated magician of his age, who performed with the name of Wei Ling Soo, and was also, at the same time, an arrogant Englishman who thought he was the best magician ever and who had a special aversion to phony spiritualists’ claims. One night after one of his shows, Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney) encouraged him to go on a mission to the Côte d’Azur mansion of the Catledge family. Stanley pretends to be a businessman named Stanley Taplinger in order to debunk the young clairvoyant Sophie Baker (Emma Stone) who was staying with there with her mother after convincing the family that she could contact with dead people. Without believing in any of this stuff, Stanley will search Sophie Baker’s past and will try to notice some flaws in her personality. In the end, after a series of events that are magical in every sense of the word, the biggest trick Magic in the Moonlight plays is the one that fools us all. (Based on the synopsis by Sony Pictures Classics)

The characters in Magic in the Moonlight are somehow a contradiction to the story itself because while their personalities are rich and interesting, the story is a bit cheesy and not that magical. The chemistry between Firth and Stone was surprisingly good and their performances were quite interesting to watch. While Firth was a more closed and arrogant man, Stone was a kind and peaceful woman who was trying to make him look the world in a different perspective. Stanley believed in a world without magic in which every trick had a secret and this prevented him from believing in Sophie’s statements. However, when Sophie starts revealing herself, Stanley can’t notice any flaw in her personality which makes his arrogant side stood out a bit. While he’s angry for not noticing anything odd, Sophie takes advantage of that and impresses him with a bit of “magic” in the middle. Stanley starts believing her and decides to tell the world that even though he was always known for his negative opinion regarding magic, he found evidence to prove that there’s some magic around us. The changes in his behavior are interesting and the evolution of their relationship is lovely to watch.

But just like I said previously, the major flaw in Magic in the Moonlight is the story because it’s really hard to fell in love with it. For those who prefer stories with some substance in the middle, this one is a bit disappointing, but for those are looking for a “feel-good” movie, Magic in the Moonlight is a good pick. In the first minutes the movie conquered me with the arrogant magician story and I was really interested and captivated for the rest of the movie but the way everything evolved seemed cheesy and there was no need to turn the movie into a predictable romantic comedy. There are funny moments in the story and if you make a small effort to forget the forced romance perhaps everything becomes a lot more enjoyable. For a talented director known for several romantic comedies, Magic in the Moonlight is a bit far from his previous great movies and some of the magic he got us used to is not present in the story.

While it’s true that it lacks some emotion and dedication in the story and even though the story, in the end, doesn’t seem that natural, I enjoyed the funny moments and the beginning and I must say I left the theater feeling I had a good time. The story is indeed a bit week and there’s nothing to highlight in it but the good performances by Colin Firth and Emma Stone compensate that a bit. The characters are solid and there’re good moments that could easily attract you. Unfortunately magic is not in the air and the movie loses some of its impact when the romance starts flourishing. Kind, funny and a bit intriguing, Magic in the Moonlight is a search for truth but at the same time a lesson about believing in magic and miracles because let’s face it, without the magic of love our lives would look really sad. In the end, Magic in the Moonlight is a good choice for those rainy days to watch with your loved ones.

★★½

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