Magic in the Moonlight
Director: Woody Allen
Cast: Eileen Atkins, Colin Firth, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater, Simon McBurney, Emma Stone and Jacki Weaver
Duration: 100 minutes
Release Date: 28 August, 2014
In his old age, Woody Allen has slipped into a relatively comfortable formula for making movies.
His latest offering, the Gatsby-esque Magic in the Moonlight, is no different.
Like 2011’s Midnight in Paris or 2012’s To Rome with Love, it has all the prerequisite components of a modern Allen rom-com – beautiful young ingenue, hazy golden lighting, farcical twists and turns and a romantic, albeit slightly exaggerated, European setting.
Set in the south of France, the movie follows Englishman Stanley (Colin Firth) as he attempts to unmask young clairvoyant Sophie (Emma Stone), whom he believes is using her feminine charms and acting ability to seduce the rich, gullible Catledge family.
It’s a lively premise that allows for lots of playful seance scenes involving Stone’s hilarious facial expressions as she navigates “visions and vibrations” while talking to the dead.
But, like Annie Hall, much of the movie is driven by the unlikely chemistry between the two leads, who in real life have a twenty-eight-year age gap.
As a Scrooge-like magician, Firth is laugh-out-loud funny and charming (no surprises there) and, in her first foray as an Allen leading lady, Stone holds her own.
Against the backdrop of pastel flapper dresses and a striking French coastline, her alien beauty is unnerving and she makes a compelling mystic.
Australia’s own Jacki Weaver is once again typecast as the slightly ditzy, well-meaning matriarch and for good reason, while relative unknown Hamish Linklater is perfectly goofy as a ukelele-strumming lovesick goon.
Kudos must also go to costume designer Sonia Grande, who has captured all the whimsy and glamour of the 1920s without the pomp and circumstance of a certain Aussie director.
Magic in the Moonlight is by no means groundbreaking stuff and will most likely fade into the background in the shadow of Blue Jasmine and Allen’s other more heavy-handed offerings.
However, if you’re looking for a romp akin to a European holiday for the brain – this is it.
Much like its leading lady, the movie is funny, unique and beautiful to look at; the perfect way to spend a winter’s afternoon.