Reviews for Friends #7 Magic In The Moonlight

Magic In The Moonlight
Directed by Woody Allen

Woody Allen rather churns them out doesn’t he? As a result, some of his recent efforts have been dramatically better than others. Whilst Magic In The Moonlight isn’t a patch on, say, Midnight In Paris for being too frothy and really quite silly in places, it does offer up a good dose of tongue-in-cheek humour saved by typically cleverly observed characters - all in all making for a perfect Sunday afternoon film.

You can hand Colin Firth pretty much any script and he can be trusted to turn it into something of a special performance - and he does so again here in the role of Stanley Crawford.

Set in the late 1920s on the French Riviera (think sweeping coastal views and flappers), Stanley is a solid, rational Brit who’s profession as a magician - his alter-ego is moustachioed Chinaman Wei Ling Soo - provides him with the motivation, skills and respect needed to hunt down international charlatans posing as mystics and such like, and expose their fraud to the world.

When friend a fellow magician, Howard, informs him that a young American woman - Sophie Baker - has infiltrated the wealthy Cartledge family by posing as medium able to contact the spirit world (and Mrs Cartledge’s dead hubbie in particular) Stanley travels to the south of France to de-bunk her.

But of course, Sophie turns out to be gorgeous and gamine - brilliantly played by Emma Stone, who really is enchanting - and by the end of the film after weeks of wining, dining, driving and dancing in the almost-mythical elegance of the period Allen has created, Stanley (eventually - he’s an emotionally slow Englishman, you see) realises he wants to do much more than de-bunk.

For me, it is a rather unlikely and almost painful attempt at a romantic liaison, and the (lack of) chemistry between the two protagonists is a let down.

Unfortunately the rest of the cast leave a lot to be desired, too - aside from Eileen Atkins who delivers the strange role of Stanley’s favourite Aunt with typical aplomb, the film could probably do without them.

But with that said, this film offers a jolly romp through the heavyweights of life, death and science in a way that only Woody Allen could pull off - although not a classic, it is still warm and wonderfully sarcastic with some very funny moments.

Whimsical but not memorable, this is something you could watch with granny and the grandkids without alienating, offending or - hopefully - boring either.


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