Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Overlooked Movies: Magic in the Moonlight (2014)

I’d never heard of MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT because I really haven’t kept up with Woody Allen’s movies for the past thirty years or so. I’ll always love his work from the Sixties and Seventies, but I’ve found his movies since then to be wildly inconsistent and, even at their best, not nearly as good.

That said, 2014’s MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT isn’t bad. A friend of mine watched it and mentioned on Facebook that the same script could have been filmed in 1940 with Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers. That sounded like the sort of thing I wanted to see, so we gave it a try. That assessment is pretty accurate, too.

Colin Firth plays the Cary Grant part, if you want to call it that. He’s a stage magician whose secondary career is debunking phony mediums and spiritualists. Emma Stone takes on the Ginger Rogers role, a young American woman who has her hooks in a wealthy British family by pretending to be in contact with the departed patriarch. Or is she pretending . . .? Firth winds up involved in the whole thing because a magician friend of his was hired to expose Stone’s chicanery but failed to find any proof she’s a fake. If anybody can do it, though, it’s Firth.

Well, you know as well I do what’s going to happen. Firth and Stone wind up falling in love. Is she a con artist, or isn’t she? The answer to that question lies in a very clever twist in the script by Allen, one that I probably should have seen coming but didn’t, at all. The whole thing is frothy, well-acted, and beautifully filmed. The main objection most people seem to have is that Firth is too old for Stone, a fact that people who hate Allen for things he’s alleged to have done in his personal life seize on to criticize the film. My opinion is that, yes, the age difference probably is a little too much, but it didn’t really detract from the movie for me. If that’s likely to bother you, I’d say don’t watch MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT. Otherwise, I recommend it. It’s not as good as his early stuff, but like another fairly recent film of his, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, I liked it quite a bit and think it’s a movie with its heart in the right place.

1 comment:

Ed McBride said...

I have a love/hate with Woody Allen's films too. I'm just glad that someone is still producing movies that are more thoughtful than superhero sequels or raunchy comedies.