Film works like magic
MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT ( PG)
Directors: Woody Allen ( Midnight in Paris) Starring: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Simon McBurney, Jackie Weaver, Marcia Gay Harden.
IN the opening scene of Magic in the
Moonlight, we meet the master prestidigitator of the 1920s, a belligerent British gent named Stanley ( Colin Firth).
The signature trick in Stanley’s act is a doozy: he can make an elephant disappear from plain sight.
Throughout Magic in the Moonlight, prolifi c veteran fi lmmaker Woody Allen tasks himself with pulling off a similar illusion.
The elephant in the room in this particular case is the age difference between Allen’s two will- they- or- won’t- they romantic leads. Firth is 53. His co- star, Emma Stone, is 25. For some members of the audience – particularly those not enamoured of Allen’s controversial private life – that disparity in longevities will not be made to go away.
Each to their own. Those who can fall under the intended spell cast by Magic in the
Moonlight will be rewarded with one of Allen’s fi ner light comedies of his later years.
While defi nitely a throwaway trifl e when compared with the writer- director’s 2013 caustic classic Blue Jasmine, the fi lm exudes a mannered, yet carefree charm that is a delight to experience.
A basic plot kicks in when we learn of Stanley’s favourite offstage pastime: debunking the fraudsters who take a single trick and use it to take advantage of others.
A fellow magician ( Simon McBurney) has informed Stanley of a young woman who is causing a sensation in the south of France.
Sophie ( Emma Stone) seems blessed with a range of psychic powers that make Nostradamus look like an amateur.
Make no mistake, Sophie is a real pro. So much so, that by the time Stanley catches up with her on the Cote d’Azur, she is about to cash in on her biggest payday yet.
A wealthy matron ( Jackie Weaver) wants to regularly converse with her dead husband and Sophie appears to be running a direct line to “the other side”.
Stanley sits in on one of Sophie’s seances and the serial sceptic is seriously shaken by what he sees.
Stanley can only conclude Sophie is the real deal. As he spends more time in her company, Stanley loses more of the sure footing that has carried him so far in the world of magic.
Throughout the fi lm, the abiding mystery of Sophie’s gift duels for the viewer’s attention with Stanley’s slowly intensifying affection for her.
While both plot strands border on the inexplicable, a carefully controlled chemistry shared by Firth and Stone keeps viewers wondering in all the right ways.