Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Magic in the Moonlight | Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Simon McBurney, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Hamish Linklater, Eileen Atkins | Review

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3 Chicks Small Jacqueline Monahan

Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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Magic in the Moonlight | Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Simon McBurney, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Hamish Linklater, Eileen Atkins | Review

Writer/director Woody Allen has gotten his period.  Piece that is, and his latest effort, Magic in the Moonlight proves that he does good 20’s.  They don’t even have to roar to get your attention, just hum and purr in a sumptuous postcard of a film that relies heavily on scenery and interiors, costumes and cars, and unfortunately, a totally predictable outcome.

Acclaimed magician Wei Ling Soo – alias the very British Stanley (Colin Firth) leaves Berlin for an estate in the South of France to debunk equally acclaimed medium Sophie Baker (Emma Stone).  The devastatingly wealthy Catledge family that she and her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) have been living with contains a matriarch Grace (Jacki Weaver) intent on contacting her late husband, a son Brice (Hamish Linklater) intent on winning over Sophie as his wife, and some skeptical relatives who detect a whiff of fraud in all of the psychic proceedings (Erica Leerhsen and Jeremy Shamos).

Stanley’s pal and fellow magician Howard (Simon McBurney) talks him into investigating Sophie.  If anyone can prove her a gold digging phony, Stanley the rational atheist can.  Only Sophie seems to know things about Stanley that make a believer out of him.  Will romance blossom between the curmudgeon and the mystic?

A side plot involves Stanley’s eccentric aunt Vanessa (Eileen Atkins) who happens to live in the same Côte d'Azur neighborhood as the Catledges so that we get to see yet another grand estate, inside and out.

Firth and Stone have surprising chemistry despite a rather large age difference – and the cast is entirely believable in their well-heeled finery, although Sophie’s hairstyle is all wrong for the era, a curious distraction perhaps meant to underscore her alleged disingenuous character.

Some clever dialogue, a mild surprise and an even milder repercussion make for a very pretty paint by numbers tale, disappointing only because its writer/director is known for coloring outside the lines.

Allen, nearly 80 and as prolific as ever, is entitled to take it easy once in a while, and a film like Magic in the Moonlight is proof that a big budget can’t take the place of an inspired script, but can be an enchanting place to put your eyes for a few hours.

We’ve just come to expect a bit more magic than that.