Sunday, September 14, 2014

Magic in the Moonlight ***

With Magic in the Moonlight Woody Allen makes a nice return to light romantic comedy. Colin Firth stars as Stanley, a world famous magician recruited to debunk the popularity of a psychic/medium Antonia (Emma Stone). Set in the 1920s, Allen delightfully captures a lost world he romanticized previously in Midnight in Paris.  Woody revisits a penultimate theme in his canon: reconciling a rationalist world view with the most irrational of all emotions, love.

Firth's character performs as Wei Ling Soo, a Chinese mystic who entrances audiences with vivid illusions. Outside of the theater, Stanley's a cynical Englishman with a dry wit. When a friend convinces him to debunk the beautiful medium played by Stone, Stanley heads to the south of France.  Determined not to fall prey to her charms, he finds himself at a loss to explain her powers.  Firth and Stone have a nice chemistry and enough wit to keep the movie humming along.

The camera nicely captures breezy sunsets, starry skies, and sunny mornings.  Unlike so many romantic comedies which strive for realism and instead emote a false sentimentality, Magic in the Moonlight allows the world of fantasy to take over.  While there are many bleak corners in Allen's cinematic universe, Magic in the Moonlight stands as a beacon of light.

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