Starring: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Simon McBurney
Directed by: Woody Allen (“Blue Jasmine”)
Written by: Woody Allen (“Midnight in Paris”)
With the amount of features filmmaker Woody Allen has consecutively written and/or directed over the last 30-plus years (at least one annually since 1981!), not all of them can be winners. For every Oscar-winning script penned like “Midnight in Paris,” there‘s a picture like “To Rome with Love” that fails to reach the level of intellect and wit one would hope Allen could recreate in every project.
After writing and directing last year’s wonderful character study of an emotionally unstable and neurotic woman in “Blue Jasmine,” which won actress Cate Blanchett her second Academy Award, Allen has once again quickly churned out another screenplay with “Magic in the Moonlight” It is, however, one that evokes his lesser attempts and is sure to garner little attention after it’s release. While “Magic in the Moonlight” is, at times, charming and beautifully shot, the humor, romance and sharp dialogue are sorely lacking.
In the film Oscar winner Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”) plays Stanley, a popular magician who performs under a stage name and behind a costume and is known for being able to debunk supernatural powers. Stanley is faced with his most challenging case when he meets Sophie (Emma Stone), a young woman claiming to be a spiritual medium who can connect with the dead and reveal things about someone’s past that would be impossible to know. Although Stanley refuses to allow himself to be cast under her spell and become a believer, he soon finds out there is more to Sophie than he first thought.
While the theme of logic versus faith is interesting, “Magic in the Moonlight” is far too predictable and lightweight to build on a fine performance by Stone, who shows some nice range as an actress coming into her own like she did in “The Help.” Firth, too, is substantial as he tries to separate what his heart and mind want. Without the dramatic confidence of some of Allen’s earlier films, however, “Magic in the Moonlight” sizzles out faster than Allen can type screenplays.