Film review: Magic In The Moonlight

Woody Allen’s films are starting to resemble your great-grandparents: creaky, talky and unable to move much.
A scene from Magic in the MoonlightA scene from Magic in the Moonlight
A scene from Magic in the Moonlight

Magic In The Moonlight (12A)

Rating 3/5

Admittedly Magic In The Moonlight is aiming for a 1930s Hollywood drawing room esprit but when Allen locks off his camera for yet another static natter about pedantic rationalism vs joyous illusion, it feels like it shouldn’t be called a movie at all.

The main rationalist here is Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth), an abrasive magician invited to the Riviera by an old – and rare – friend (Simon McBurney) to investigate Sophie (Emma Stone), a young American psychic. Is she a phenomenon or a phoney? Crawford is all set to sneer, but ends up intrigued and amazed by her psychic gifts. Stone and Firth are good here, but Allen is more interested in a tug of war between faith and reason than elaborating on the push-and-pull of their attraction.

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The obstacles Allen places in their way are half-hearted, with Firth engaged to a barely seen Catherine McCormack, who conveniently stays home in London rather than grabbing a free trip to France, while Stone has a wealthy suitor (Hamish Linklater) who likes to play her love songs on his ukulele.

Will she end up with the nice, same-age millionaire who adores her, or the guy twice her age who spends most of the movie alternately patronising and insulting her? You don’t have to be clairvoyant to anticipate the answer, which is why a) Magic In The Moonlight leaks tension, and b) Allen’s movies are becoming increasingly creepy. n

Siobhan Synnot

On general release from Friday