Woody Allen has been on a hit and slightly miss roll of late that dates back to Midnight in Paris.
He followed that triumph (also his highest grossing movie!) up with the just all right To Rome with Love. Then, he came back the following summer with the Oscar-winning Blue Jasmine. Now, he heads to the south of France for the rom-com Magic in the Moonlight. And that hit and slight miss streak continues.
In this 1920s-set film, Colin Firth stars as Stanley, one of the world’s most popular and successful magicians. His hobby has also made him quite world renowned. Stanley travels the globe debunking charlatans who claim to possess the power of clairvoyance with the dead.
His friend has got a fun getaway for him. Emma Stone’s Sophie has found herself a benefactor in Jacki Weaver’s Grace. Sophie is siphoning cash from Grace’s millionaire and having nightly séances communicating with her dead husband. Stanley doesn’t buy it and heads to the south of France to debunk Sophie and prove another faker for what they are.
Firth is fantastic, as always. He has a ball as Stanley and his ability to play elitists who look down their noses is pitch perfect for the role. And Stone also has fun as the Allen female antagonist whom Stanley just can’t figure out. In fact, Stanley begins to think that she is the real deal! Or… is it love clouding his mind?
The ensemble as a whole is also enjoying their time in the south of France sun with Allen’s story -- especially Weaver, who is fresh off her Oscar nod for Silver Linings Playbook. But, the entire affair feels a tad light. And yes, an Allen romantic comedy of this sort should be on the fairer side, but there is something about Magic in Moonlight that feels more fluff than fun.
Allen, to his credit, is still writing and directing a movie a year -- astounding for a man in his seventies. To any filmmaker, making movies at this pace can be draining and a lack of quality can exist in their films. Perhaps that could explain Allen’s one great, one just OK streak that he’s currently on.
Unfortunately, our Magic in the Moonlight review finds that this one is the just OK in his greatness every other year path.
For something better from Allen, watch Blue Jasmine online!