Magic in the Moonlight-Capsule Review

Magic in moonlight pix 2014Magic in the Moonlight is Woody Allen’s newest film. His choice of leading man, Colin Firth, is an inspired one. Firth’s ability to channel the cynicism and power of the rant that Allen perfected is shown in the opening sequence. But the film is paced rather too slowly, and it seems to fizzle in the second half. However the cinematography is gorgeous, with scenes from the South of France and Provence region overtaking most of the thin gruel of a plot.
Allen has been fascinated with magic in film in some of his more successful screenplays-Shadows & Fog comes to mind. In Magic, the central plot deals with a magician attempting to defraud and expose a medium. The idea that a character, Colin Firth’s magician, is attempting to expose this young medium, played by Emma Stone, is not enough to carry the 100-minute film. In the past, Allen has used various sub-plots in the same way that Shakespeare would weave his complex plots together to create artistic masterpieces. The interest of the main characters was always supported by the props of colorful characters surrounding even the thinnest of plots. In this case, the action is carried by the one story line of the medium and Firth’s attempt to expose her.
The sets and characters are gorgeously presented, and like a banquet laid out before us, we expect to dine on one of Woody Allen’s classic comedies. In this case, to those of us who have followed his career, it’s painfully obvious that Woody Allen’s bag of cinematic tricks is definitely on the decline. This is not his best work, yet there are some glimpses of his former glory within the film. Firth’s Aunt Vanessa, played by Eileen Atkins, is one delightful surprise.
Go and see Magic in the Moonlight only if you love Woody Allen comedies. Or better still, rent Shadows & Fog to see Allen working at the top of his game

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Author of "6 Degrees of Film: The Future of Film in the Global Village", Ms. Johnson continues to blog on film and publishes a newsletter plus the Flipboard magazine 6 Degrees of Film @ the Movies. Her book is currently available on Amazon at

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