Magic In The Moonlight, despite its runtime of 97m, quite typical for director Woody Allen, is a movie that moves at a fairly slow pace. The film feels a little disjointed and seems to be following the recent habit of Woody Allen making one very good picture (for example, Match Point, Vicky Christiana Barcelona, Midnight in Paris, and Blue Jasmine as examples), and followed it up by a rather average or mediocre films (such as Cassandra’s Dream, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, To Rome With Love, etc..). Magic In the Moonlight is a fairly predictable romantic comedy. Colin Firth and Emma Stone, have good chemistry between each other, but ultimately the film left me unimpressed.
Like most of Allen’s recent films, Magic In The Moonlight is set in a foreign country, France, specifically the French Riviera. The film is at least lovely to look at, and tells the story of a famous illusionist named Stanley Crawford (played by Colin Firth), who has spent his life revealing fake spiritualists. Enlisted by his best friend Howard, (played by Simon McBurney), he goes to the French Riviera, where a rich family has been taken in by a spiritualist named Sophie (played by Emma Stone), and her scheming mother (played by Marcia Gay Harden. Stanley plans to expose Sophie as a fake, but after seeing her abilities in action, he actually starts to believe that she may be actually be able to communicate with the spirit world, and even stranger, he may actually be falling for her.
One of the things I appreciated about this film, was Allen’s use of classical songs and scores. Instead of going for an original score composed by someone, Allen instead chose, songs from the 1930’s and 1940’s, written by Cole Porter, Richard Rogers, William Jerome, as well, classical pieces such as Igor Stravinsky’s The Adoration of The Earth, as performed by The London Festival Orchestra. The best scenes in the film are when the soundtrack is in full force, such as, at the beginning of the film with the magician scene which has nothing but music in it, or the scene where Stanley opens his eyes and gets out of his bed. Those kinds of scenes are when Magic In The Moonlight actually becomes magical.
Despite this though Colin Firth and Emma Stone both give solid performances. I was particular impressed by Firth’s performance after he started to believe that Sophie was a true spiritualist. He truly seems excited, which is a change from his original character, who seemed to be a bit of a jerk.
Like all of Allen’s films, there’s also a fine supporting cast, including Marcia Gay Harden as Sophie’s mother, Hamish Linklater as Sophie’s fiancé, Jackie Weaver as the fiancé’s mother, Eileen Atkins as Stanley’s aunt Vanessa. All of these actors give fine performances, but the script itself is rather lackluster, due to its very cliché premise.