Magic in the Moonlight

Director: Woody Allen

Writers: Woody Allen

Cast: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Antonia Clarke, Natasha Andrews, Valérie Beaulieu, Peter Wollasch, Jürgen Zwingel, Wolfgang Pissors, Sébastien Siroux, Simon McBurney, Ute Lemper, Catherine McCormack, Eileen Atkins, Erica Leerhsen, Jeremy Shamos, Hamish Linklater, Marcia Gay Harden, Didier Muller, Jacki Weaver

Synopsis: A romantic comedy about an Englishman brought in to help unmask a possible swindle. Personal and professional complications ensue.

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for a brief suggestive comment, and smoking throughout

Stevennix2001's Rating:

9 / 10

Pros:


- Colin Firth and Emma Stone both have great chemistry together.

- Stanley and Sophie's personalities both act as perfect contrasts between each other

- Pacing was good

- Cinematography was good

- Set designs and costumes seemed authentic

- story was written well

- Had a lot of interesting concepts about faith, and love in general.

- Clever homage to the older romantic comedies of the past

Cons:


- Fairly predictable story arc

- Contains various cliches that keep it from being as original as some of Woody's previous works.

To believe or not to believe....that is the question...

"Blessed are those who believe without seeing me", as quoted from the Bible in passage 20:29. Is it truly better to live ones life in the firms grips of reality, while dismissing any and all possibilities that some things out there simply can't be explained by logic or science? Or what if someone finds happiness through some false ideal if only to attain hope? Is it right for us to take away that happiness even if it is truly a lie? Or should we always be confounded by the harsh realities of life itself?

In a lot of ways, it reminds of a line from "Miracle on 34th Street", where one of the characters asks, "I implore the court to ask which is worse. A truth that draws a tear? Or a lie that draws a smile?" Not an easy question to answer, as some circumstances might not warrant hearing the harsh realities of life. For example. If you're loved one was most likely going to die during surgery, then which reality would you want to hear? Would you want to hear the reality about how there's nothing you can do about it. That when they die, you'll never see them again. Or would you rather be comforted by the idea that maybe if you pray to some higher deity that things could possibly be alright? Or that you might see your loved ones again in another life someday, even after their passing?

Is it foolish to believe that some things can't be explained through common sense and logic? And how do you define what's logical? If you fall madly in love with someone, yet all the signs point to how it would be illogical for you two to be together, then what do you do? Do you listen to your heart? Or do you listen to your mind? What if you're better off marrying someone you don't love for financial security? Or would you rather marry someone with less financial security, but your heart yearns for you to be with that person? Should marriage be matter of who you love? Or should you simply marry someone out of convenience? What if you could only have one or the other? What choice would you make? What choice would any of us make in these matters?

"Magic in the Moonlight" is an engaging romantic comedy that explores all these themes, while having a bit of a 1950's film vibe to it; similar to what you'd find in older movies like "It Happened One Night" and etc. Leave it to a skilled filmmaker like Woody Allen to create such a great romantic comedy that pays homage to the classic 50's film era.

While I hesitate to call this Woody Allen's best romantic comedy, it's still fairly entertaining for what it is. The story follows an elderly gentleman named Stanley (Colin Firth), who makes a living posing as an Asian magician for various magic shows, while moonlighting as a man that defrauds various psychic mediums (aka spiritualists) in the name of common decency. He considers it his civil duty defrauding spiritualists because he believes that life should be based on facts rather than silly superstitious beliefs.

One day, he receives word about a young spiritualist named Sophie (Emma Stone), who seems to possess gifts that not even one of his colleagues can allegedly disprove. Thus in the name of curiosity, Stanley takes it upon himself to meet this charming young lady, so he can expose her for the fraud that she really is. However, he soon discovers that maybe there might be some things in life that can't be explained through logic, or reason.

Like most romantic comedies of this ilk, the two obviously have something of a love/hate relationship among each other; in spite of their obvious age difference. Stanley is of course engaged to another woman, who's around his age. As for Sophie, she's become sort of the center of affection for a strapping young millionaire that can offer her a lifetime of financial security. On the surface, both Sophie and Stanley should be happy with their lives. After all, Sophie is too young to be dating Stanley, and he's engaged to another woman that shares more common interests with him than she does. Plus, Sophie already has a young suitor that can offer her more than what Stanley probably could. Therefore, why should this even be an issue?

But alas, when has love ever been logical? Colin Firth and Emma Stone are beautiful together. Colin's stoic presence acts as a sharp contrast to Emma's unbridled optimism in this feature. Seeing Colin act as the moody judgmental pessimist was quite amusing, and Emma does a great job playing Sophie, who comes across as a wide eyed girl that's full of hopes and dreams. A girl that always tries to see the bright side of things. Both actors carry their parts rather well, and the film moves at a fairly good pace.

Unlike some of Woody's previous films though, this one doesn't have the same creativity and originality that some of his others have resonated in the past. "Magic in the Moonlight" is essentially nothing more than a straight up romantic comedy set as a period piece. And like most romantic comedies, "Magic in the Moonlight" still succumbs to a lot of the stereotypical cliches that one would expect. Outside of the clever homage to classic 1950's romantic comedies of the past, "Magic in the Moonlight" offers little in terms of originality.

However, I'm not saying it's a bad movie or anything, as I certainly wouldn't go that far. No, I'm just saying that "Magic in the Moonlight" is not Woody's best work. Don't get me wrong, it's still an enjoyable romantic comedy. And if you're into classics like "Mr. Deeds Goes to Town", "It Happened One Night" and etc, then you'll probably like this movie as well. Definitely worth checking out in theaters if you're a Woody Allen fan.

© 2014 Steven Escareno

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