As many would already be aware of, Woody Allen releases a new film on a yearly basis. Magic in the Moonlight is his latest film. It follows the story of the retentive and obnoxious Stanley (Colin Firth), a man with two careers. He's both a famous magician and he's famous for debunking other magicians. It is here that we meet Sophie (Emma Stone), an attractive young woman who claims to have a connection to the spiritual world. Stanley refuses to believe the hype, so he goes down to discover her ways.
I've never been the biggest Woody Allen fan. I've seen a decent enough handful of his movies to know what they're all about, but he's not a director that, for me, stands out. Yes, he makes a good film every now and again, but because he insists on releasing a film every year, his large filmography contains a lot of duds too. I can admire some of his movies for what they are, but his ratio of good films to bad films should be left unspoken. Magic in the Moonlight is not one of his good movies. It's not egregious either, which was a surprise, but it's nothing noteworthy.
It's the performances that really make this movie. As with most of the recent Woody Allen films, they're performance reliant. While the screenplay can be witty at times, although that's without saying that most of the jokes failed too, and the direction is fine, it's the performances that really push this film along. Colin Firth, although not at his strongest, does well. He suits the character, although not as much as Emma Stone does with Sophie. Her performance is marvellous. "She's a visionary and a vision," as the film puts it, which is all too true. Magic in the Moonlight is one of her better performances. It may even be her best performance, but I'll leave that up to debate. She has charm to her. Even a bit of mystery. That being said, the supporting cast fell flat. Stone's love interest in the film does nothing more than play a few songs and give a few trailer-worthy quotes. None of the characters feel fleshed out. They're there to be there. They're there to add to the mystery, when most of the mystery would remain without most of their presences.
After the first forty minutes, the film gets messy. The film started out promising. It was engaging and interesting. I was eager to see how the magic worked, but at the same time was doubting if there was even a logical answer to my doubts. This all falls apart after a certain scene that I won't spoil. The characters undergo an unforeseen change of personality, one that has little cause. Here is when the pacing is also torn to pieces, the after effects of this being dull and disastrous. The film also starts to foreshadow a little too much. I was able to work out all the little games and hints that, perhaps, weren't meant to be noticed.
To sum up, Magic in the Moonlight boasts decent performances and a bit of occasional wit, but Woody Allen is really driving on auto-pilot with a predictable screenplay that starts out intriguing, but ends up being dull and messy.
2 1/2 Stars