What do you believe in? Are you a religious person? Perhaps you are spiritual in nature completely comfortable with the notion of spirits and afterlife. Or possibly you are a hard core science only kind of person. In its own way Woody Allen’s latest offering “Magic in the Moonlight” starring Colin Firth and Emma Stone wraps itself around the conflicting views of spirituality and hard science and it does so brilliantly.
The story is set on 1928, the peak of the roaring twenties, one of the most exciting times in modern history. The primary location in the South of France also places the movie in one of the most beautiful locations on earth. The period automobiles are stunning and the music stirs warm memories for some and introduces enjoyable options to rap, pop and rock for others. A world renowned magician is summoned by a friend to expose the chicanery of a young and beautiful psychic. The magician, Stanley played flawlessly by Colin Firth at first views the beautiful young spiritualist Sophie played at an Oscar level by Emma Stone with ridicule and contempt. But Stanley is a man after all and Sophie is a very compelling young woman.
Eventually Sophie reveals information to Stanley about his life that even he cannot ignore as being well beyond common knowledge and utterly accurate. He embraces her revelations as a genuine miracle and publicly denounces his legendary cynicism. All of this is played with subtlety and grace keeping the entire movie perpetually beautiful to watch. There are some very clever twists and turns but unlike so many lesser romantic comedies this one does not immediately jump to a foregone conclusion. It is the ride that grabs and holds the audience with the conclusion simply being the cherry on this cinematic cake.
Firth and Stone are at their best, the story is exceptionally well told, it happens during one of mankind’s most exciting eras and the scenery is just plain gorgeous. It is warn yet funny movie that captures your heart. Frankly I typically find romantic comedies to be excessively shallow, predictable and borrowing. I am sure that a few critics will find one or more of those traits in “Magic in the Moonlight” but I do not. Nor am I a Woody Allen fan. However I found “Magic in the Moonlight” to be a thoroughly enjoyable, warm and wonderful masterpiece of cinematic art. If the only thing that entertains you is massive explosions, gigantic beasts and the abundant application of special effects, stay away. For everyone else “Magic in the Moonlight” is a must see movie.
Copyright 2014 Ron Irwin