Woody Allen movies have always been celebrated for their stories and characters that are quirky and out of this world. Coming after last year’s celebrated ‘Blue Jasmine‘ starring Cate Blanchette, I must say, Magic In The Moonlight do not cast any magic on its viewers. I am not saying it is a bad movie however it is not up to the standards of a Woody Allen movie we always expect. Maybe we can say it is not one of his best.
Magic In The Moonlight tells the story of a Chinese conjuror Wei Ling Soo who is the most celebrated magician of his age however far from his stage persona in actual life his true identity is of Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth), a grouchy and arrogant Englishman with a sky-high opinion of himself and an aversion to phony spiritualists’ claims.
One day his childhood friend and fellow magician Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney), comes to him with the proposal of pulling the mask off a spiritualist who claims to have contact with the deceased through soul connection. Initially uninterested, Stanley goes on the mission to the Côte d’Azur mansion of the Catledge family after being persuaded by Howard.
In the mansion lives Grace (Jacki Weaver) lives with her son Brice (Hamish Linklater) and daughter Caroline (Erica Leerhsen). Grace who wants to make connection with her dead husband’s soul to get answers to some of her unanswered questions invites Sophie Baker (Emma Stone) a young clairvoyant to the mansion. Sophie arrives with her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) and soon gets engaged to Brice who is besotted with the young and beautiful clairvoyant. In comes Stanley to uncover Sophie and presents himself as a businessman named Stanley Taplinger. Soon Stanley’s belief in spiritualism is tested and what follows is a series of events that are magical in every sense of the word and send the characters reeling.
The story is not great shakes but it is still a one time watch. Allen has extracted some wonderful performances from Emma and the scenes where she gets into a trance while scanning information about a person is quite brilliantly and comically executed. Colin Firth in comparison is average and his character seems to lack wit and makes him look confused on the screen. Like Allen even Firth had a bad day with this movie.
The cinematography is top notch like any Allen movie and the locales of France has been captured in a picture postcard way. The background music is quite soothing and editing is also crisp. The mastery of Allen can be seen in every frame alas I could say the same with the story.
Overall its a one time watch however hardcore Allen fans will be slightly disappointed.
My Verdict: **
Poor – *, Average – **, Good – ***, Very Good – ****, Excellent – *****