Woody Allen’s newest film, Magic in the Moonlight, follows an illusionist, Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth) as he tries to unmask an alleged psychic, Sophie Baker (Emma Stone), as a fraud. Stanley works under the alias Wei Ling Soo. Following one of his performances, his friend Howard Burkan asks for his help in uncovering a potential fraud. Sophie has been working for, or “playing” according to Stanley, a very wealthy family, the Catledges, in the French Riviera. Howard claims that he cannot uncover the mystery behind Sophie and needs her help.
Stanley travels to the French Riviera where Sophie, too, stuns him. As they spend more time together, we see Stanley’s cynicism subside as his relationship with Sophie grows. He feels as if she has brought new meaning to his life and opened up new ideas of the supernatural and afterlife.
However, Sophie’s romantic feelings develop faster than Stanley’s, which leads to a debacle in their relationship. As things seem to be falling apart, Stanley comes to terms with his beliefs and ties up the loose strings of his relationships with Howard and Sophie.
Allen, once again, exceeded my expectations as he executed perfect costuming and set design in order to flawlessly capture the setting of 1920s French Riviera. Much like in his film Midnight in Paris (2011), the audience is transported back in time and feels as if they, too, are there trying to unmask the potential fraud.
I find Woody Allen’s movies to be extremely refreshing for two reasons: firstly, Woody Allen’s dialogue is clever and often challenges the audience to think about deeper things. In this film particularly, it unravels an underlying question regarding the existence of an afterlife. Secondly, most romantic comedies have fairly predictable storylines, yet there were moments during Magic in the Moonlight where the unexpected astonished me.
Woody Allen’s film challenges the viewer to consider whether or not one should naively believe what can’t be proven, whether they should put their faith out into the unseen world or to resort to cynicism by rejecting anything that cannot be proved by sight.
Though many critics and moviegoers argue that the age difference between Colin Firth and Emma Stone was too apparent on-screen, Magic in the Moonlight served its purpose as a film. It created an amusing, thought-provoking tale, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a light, enjoyable romantic-comedy.
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