Magic in the Moonlight ****
It is often said that most Woody Allen films have the same look and feel, but I would say that his great ones are like diamonds, each one just a different facet of the diamond. He has been creating a film almost each year since 1966, many of them comedic and philosophical jewels and a few duds. That is some prolific achievement!
So if there’s one film to run to before it’s gone, it is Magic in the Moonlight. It may not be one of Allen’s best, but it is a moment of pure enjoyment and delight. Some reviews have been dismissive – especially by New York Times critic, A.O. Scott, who likes to cut down most of his works. But this frothy tale set in the 1920s on the Côte d’Azur is both magical romance and tongue-in-cheek intellectual. It has the usual smatterings of Woody’s references to his icons Nietzsche, Freud, Shakespeare and Beethoven, while it pulls you into its universe of magicians and dubious soothsayers mingled with old-money expats on the Riviera.
Colin Firth has seldom been so romantically inspired, going from a complete sceptic to a hopeful dreamer. Emma Stone is quite perfect as the innocent-looking seer who simply enchants her entourage, while the 1920s is wonderfully clichéd and lovingly filmed by the Iranian/French cinematographer, Darius Khondji (of such varied films as Evita, Alien and Amour), a frequent collaborator of Woody’s.
It may seem foolish whimsy, but there is something intangible, something that evolves like bubbles of champagne… or magic in the moonlight… that leaves one feeling downright light and happy. You’ve done it again, Master Allen!
(Photo – Frenetic Films)
Neptune Ravar Ingwersen reviews film extensively for publications in Germany and Switzerland. She views 4 to 8 films a week and her aim is to sort the wheat from the chaff for readers.