Review: Magic in the Moonlight (2014)

by Brian Eggert

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Woody Allen

Emma Stone, Colin Firth, Antonia Clarke, Simon McBurney, Hamish Linklater, Eileen Atkins


97 min.

Woody Allen’s protagonists often have bleak philosophical worldviews, insisting the universe is cold and empty and without wonder, save for the love with which we fill it. True of Allen's protagonists from Annie Hall to Whatever Works, the presence of a god, or that which is beyond science and logic, is met with skepticism and incredulity, and often attributed to people’s need for hope, to quell their fears and let them cope with impending death. Such notions are an escape, like cinema. At the same time, Allen has long been fascinated with magic and the supernatural, and his interest in the subjects has emerged in Alice, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, Scoop, and You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. But as an amateur illusionist, Allen has always been unconvinced of authentic magic, which by extension overlaps into his religious skepticism, and so his views clearly align with his protagonist in Magic in the Moonlight, Allen's forty-fourth picture.

Colin Firth plays resident cynic and acerbic disbeliever Stanley Crawford, a London-based illusionist who performs under the “Oriental” stage guise Wei Ling-soo throughout Europe in 1928. (Stanley is also Allen’s homage to William Ellsworth Robinson and his Chinese pseudonym Chung Ling-soo, who famously died when he failed to catch a bullet in his teeth.)... Read the full article


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