Magic in the Moonlight 2014 romance drama
The concept actually isn't bad. Stanley, the magician, is brought in to prove that Sophie is faking that she has psychic powers. She's so good at what she does, she ends up convincing him, and he falls in love with her. Sophie too ends up falling for him. It should have been a good and funny movie, but it was ruined by the lack of chemistry between the two stars – Emma Stone (Sophie) and Colin Firth (Stanley). The nearly thirty year age difference did not help. What could have been a charming romantic period piece/comedy turned bland, and totally devoid of humor. The story would make better sense had Stanley (Firth) wooed Sophie’s mother Mrs. Baker (played by Marcia Gay Harden). At least they are the same age, and Harden could have reprised Verna, her sexy femme fatale character from Miller’s Crossing. But leave it to Woodie to rob the cradle instead.
I enjoyed parts of the film. As we would expect from a Woody Allen period film, the Roaring 1920’s atmosphere is fun and well detailed. The picture is beautiful to look at. Skillfully shot on the French Riviera, the outdoor scenes arise as if from a dream; lush in beauty, serenity and luxury. Make no mistake, the upper class people know how to party and ENJOY their money. But the epic miscast of the two main stars brings the whole film crashing into the ground. Emma Stone, who I enjoyed watching in her two Zombieland movies, looks and acts like a little girl in this movie. Sophie travels around with her protective mother, wears an unflattering sack dress or childish sailor suit, and is made up to appear about 13 years old, far younger than her actual age (26). Stone never connects to her character. How could she?
No modern actor can play a cocky and arrogant English snob better than Colin Firth. And his act is best enjoyed when paired with comical situations, as in the excellent 2012 film Gambit, in which he was fantastically funny. This time, though, as Stanley, he went so deeply into the serious character that when he had to switch to the lighthearted “falling-in-love mode”, the transition was sharp, too sudden and not convincing. As if to announce the transition, he delivers a strange, brief soliloquy to the camera, violating the cardinal rule of “Show, don’t tell”. The whole anti-religion speech, direct from the pen of the Hebrew agnostic himself, was hilariously off and old fashioned. I did soldier on to the happy ending, but hesitate to recommend this movie to anyone but hardcore Allen fanboys.
Written by Ben Clark. Copyright 2016-2021. All rights reserved.