Film & TV

Film Review: Magic in the Moonlight

Woody Allen tells the tale of a 1920s illusionist who enjoys unmasking fake spiritualists until he meets one that makes him question if her gifts are real.


MagicInTheMoonlightWoody Allen’s films are renowned for their fine ensembles. The veteran director has the gift for assembling great actors who are perfect fits for his interesting characters. Rarely has anyone been miscast with the performers knowing exactly how to tease out the humour from any dramatic situation.

Magic in the Moonlight is no exception. As stylish and charming as previous movies, the cast excel in bringing life to Allen’s unique and sometimes dazzling visions.

Performing as an illusionist in Berlin during the 1920s, Stanley (Colin Firth) enjoys dabbling in the mystic arts. One of his hobbies is unmasking fake spiritualists intent on making illicit monetary gains. One is noted clairvoyant Sophie (Emma Stone). Eager to expose her seemingly fraudulent behaviour, Stanley is shocked by discovering how good her abilities are. Questioning that her gifts are real, Stanley searches for answers to life’s seeming impossibilities.

Magic in the Moonlight revels in elegant wit. Providing fine banter amongst the romantic entanglements, it’s one of Allen’s best recent movies. The last decade has seen renewed energy to his directorial style with the European settings of his last several films highlighting this fresh vigour. Scenes set amidst the French Riviera are very pleasing to the eye without feeling like a contrived travelogue. These add to the flights of fancy in which the characters partake with revelations and personal discovery around every picturesque corner.

Making it work are the finely drawn performances. Firth and Stone make for a beguiling duo as their characters slowly reveal the truth behind their illusionary facades. How they complement the other makes for engaging viewing. Their co-stars, including the always wonderful Jackie Weaver, enter the film’s light spirit with aplomb. The production design and music mirrors the overall quality and excellent attention to detail.

Whilst not as emotionally deep as previous efforts Magic in the Moonlight should please Allen’s enthusiasts. It’s a light confection with numerous moments of genuine charm and grace not often seen but always welcome.

Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Twitter: @PatrickMoore14

Rating out of 10: 7


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