Film works like magic

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MOVIES - Leigh Paatsch Now show­ing State and Vil­lage Cin­e­mas

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.

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