Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating 7/10
Cast: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Simon McBurney, Dame Eileen Atkins, Hamish Linklater, Jeremy Shamos, Ute Lemper, Antonia Clarke, Natasha Andrews, Valérie Beaulieu, Peter Wollasch, Jürgen Zwingel, Wolfgang Pissors, Sébastien Siroux, Catherine McCormack, Erica Leerhsen, Didier Muller, Marcia Gay Harden, Jackie Weaver, Ronald Alphonse, Ronald Baker, Kelly Keto, Olivier Marchevet, Geroges Edouard Nouel, Mark Sims, Paul Bandey, Rudolf Krause, Patrick Zard, Pedro Chomnalez, Jessica Forde, Lionel Abelanski.
There are writers, actors and directors who owe an awful lot to Woody Allen, as there are many a film audience who also, without prompting and cajoling, stand up and count themselves fortunate to have lived in a time where Woody Allen was able to make them laugh and cry with as much human emotion as possible. The 70s to mid-80s will always be seen as the Golden age of his abundant work, however the last few years have seen some sort of renaissance come back in his prodigious output and Magic In The Moonlight should be seen as no exception to the new rule.
Stanley is theatrical dynamite, a magician of the highest order and debunker of spiritualism, he so good at what he does that life somehow has managed to pass him by and he lives under a cloud of cynicism and righteous egotism that he has managed to catch every fraud claiming to be in touch with spirits, that cloud is black and full of loneliness that he cannot see, right up until he is introduced to a young woman from America called Sophie.
In a way Magic In The Moonlight can be seen as being held within the same realm of film making that captivated fans of the excellent Bill Murray film, Lost In Translation. It is well written, it has a keen eye for the chemistry between the two leads, the ever incomparable Colin Firth and the whimsical beauty of Emma Stone and asks the audience the very important question of just how they feel about the subject at hand.
Spiritualism may not be everybody’s cup of tea but it is the ruse behind the idea that grabs the attention of the cinema goer. The notion that in a world that had been dominated by war only a decade before, that was about to suffer the worst economic hangover due to despicable financial greed and the loss of generations of people the world wide over, that somewhere there is time for magic, love and healthy sarcasm.
This may not be Woody Allen’s finest moment on screen, it certainly would have to take a film of seismic proportions to even come close to the likes of Blue Jasmine, Sleepers or Annie Hall, but then even the New York Maestro’s fairly good films are so much more enjoyable than many who profess their best in cinema.
Magic In The Moonlight is a charming piece of work that is worth exploring, written with some tender care, acted by its leading members, especially Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Simon McBurney and Dame Eileen Atkins, with a bucket load of sympathy towards the characters they are playing and one in which highlights the natural beauty of the South of France perfectly. Moonlight becomes you.
Ian D. Hall