Magic in the Moonlight (2014) Poster

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Pleasantly delightful... or delightfully pleasant
goofyball29 July 2014
I find all of woody allen flicks interesting. Always an interesting subject no matter how good bad ugly great the movie is. This new one is no exception.

MITM is a totally pleasant whimsical delight... the actors are charming especially Emma Stone and Eileen Atkins as Colin Firth's aunt.

The humor is very light... whimsy is a good term... is it funny? For me NO... but it's also not unfunny. It's just this one long smile.

The scenery is gorgeous.

The story is smart hidden in a cute jacket.

The age difference between the two is maybe a tad much but the rom in this romcom is not the leading factor... at least for most of it. Maybe a Colin Firth from 15 years ago would have been a better lead but unless Woody has access to that time travel device in Midnight In Paris that was not an option.

As with some other Allen films there is a turn in direction at some point. Won't give anything away. Your enjoyment of the movie might hinge on how you feel after it goes after this point.

For me it may have lingered around too long towards the end.

Firth is good and likable but I did find some of his character's decisions to be too abrupt. But maybe that's just me. And some of his duologue felt a bit rushed and acted.

I wouldn't personally rank this as one of his recent greats like Paris, Jasmine, Match Point or VCB... but it's a fun summery concoction of scenery, whimsy and costumes.
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A Widely and Profoundly Misunderstood Gem
emvan20 August 2014
Most viewers are taking this film as a conventional (and admittedly entirely predictable) romantic comedy which happens to be about a magician who debunks fake spirit mediums, and a beautiful young woman whom he believes is just that. But that's getting it *entirely backwards*. It is in fact a thought-provoking exploration of the extreme materialistic worldview -- the view that holds that modern science has eliminated the possibility of the existence of the soul, an afterlife, and God -- and an exploration of the psychological relationship between embracing that worldview, and being pessimistic and unhappy. As such, it is one of Allen's most personal and thought-provoking films in years.

And if that sounds "heavy," the miracle of the movie is its very lightness. Obviously, the themes enter in so effortlessly that many people are missing them entirely! You need to be interested in the tension between the materialist worldview and the conventional one that accommodates the spiritual and the mysterious, but if you are, you will be astonished at how delightful and entertaining an exploration of those deep themes can be.

The age discrepancy between Frith's and Stone's characters, which I am sure will bother many, is in fact completely necessary: he must be old enough to be set in his pessimistic ways, and she must be young and beautiful enough to challenge them at first sight.

Obviously there are happy atheists and there are miserable spiritual people, so the question that Allen is asking here is whether some unhappy atheists have embraced the soul- and God-denying position too vigorously, as a sort of defense mechanism to shield themselves from the fundamentally irrational possibility of falling in love. The way the movie knits together the materialist / spiritualist question, the possibility of love, and the metaphor of magic -- well, it's sheer magic itself.

This is far from Allen's funniest movie, and it's only a 7/10 as entertainment. But not only does it easily gain an extra point for its depth, it almost gains two. Admittedly, I am fascinated by the movie's themes, but I think that anyone who is interested in them may find themselves as charmed and, ultimately, as deeply moved as I was. 89/100.
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Magical, what else? Lovely story, great acting, beautiful sets, shall I go on?
inkblot1119 August 2014
Stanley (Colin Firth) is a famous magician in the Roaring Twenties Europe. He performs in a Chinese costume, the rage at the time. Yes, he is great. But, he is a little dictator to the rest of his crew, spewing out orders right and left. One day, an old friend, Howard (Simon McBurney), also a magician but not quite as well known, comes for a visit. Its more than a friendly chat. Howard brings word about a young medium named Sophie (Emma Stone) who he, Howard, believes is hoodwinking a wealthy family who lives in the south of France. However, Howard has seen her in action and CANNOT discover her secret. Could Stanley come and investigate? Ho ho, indeed he can, for in addition to magical tricks, our Stanley loves unmasking frauds who claim to have paranormal powers when everyone KNOWS there is no such thing. There is no spirit world, no afterlife, no ghosts, etc. That's what Stanley firmly believes and he has ripped off the disguise of many a huckster. So, to France the two go. Yet, Stanley is about to face a formidable foe. He finds Sophie beautiful, intelligent, and gifted. In addition, after seeing her in action, Stanley is aghast to discover that he can't understand her talents either, especially after she tells him some of Stanley's family secrets. This man runs to the home of his nearby aunt (Eileen Atkins) and plots how to further the cast. Will Sophie be found to be, gulp, the genuine item? Is there a paranormal world? This lovely film has it all, my view. It has a great story, with many a memorable line. Allen is surely the best screenwriter of all eternity. Then, the actors are terrific. Firth and Stone are dazzling stars while McBurney, Marcia Gay Harden, Atkins, Jackie Weaver, and all of the rest give terrific support. Next, the scenery is the kind to put your eyes out while the costumes, cinematography, and lively direction make for a most enjoyable film. My only criticism is that Firth and Stone are too far apart in age to really be a romantic couple, especially with Stone made to look as young as possible. Nevermind, because its not really important. What's important is that YOU go see these magical film before the next moon rises.
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"I believed that the dull reality of life is all there is but you are proof that there is more! More mystery! More magic!
jan_kalina11 August 2014
I guess everyone of us had that moment in life when we realized that life isn't as magical as we had pictured it. That sometimes you can't talk yourself into believing something supernatural, something magical, but deep down you want to believe. What if you were finally convinced that there is more to the world than meets the eye? That is what happens to another at heart typical Woody Allen character Stanley, this time played by Colin Firth and he brings his English cynicism into the role. Known as debunker of myths and psychics he is enlisted by an friend to the French Riviera to prove a woman, that everyone is believing is a clairvoyant, to be fraud. As more time he spends with this woman Stanley starts to believe that she might be the real deal. and with that he is also turning into a nice person all of a sudden. Now that he's got something to believe in.

Colin Firth is as usual cool as a cucumber but this he is actually likable and quite funny thanks to the always funny dialogue penned by Allen. Emma Stone is cute and funny as always. But what is real beautiful is the scenery of the French Riviera and the cinematography of Darius Khondji who has managed to capture the essence of Paris, Rome and now the south of France.

The usual Wody Allen themes are quite prominent but still wrapped in this pleasant summer fare. Allen does get to tackle religion, belief, magic, the vast size of the universe and of course the unpredictability of love. Woody Allen is of the opinion that most of his films aren't perfect, that he never got to make the film he wanted. He has stated that only three of his films are as he envisioned them. In my opinion most of his films are perfect and flawless.
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A wonderful film that leaves you reflective and happy.
pgsturges16 August 2014
This is a GREAT FILM. I read some of the tepid reviews, went anyway, LOVED it. Woody, as always, deals with big subjects lightly, the question here: is there magic in the world? Is there more to life than meets the eye? I don't know what you believe, but Woody says there is. I went right along with him.

As far as movie-making is concerned, Woody shows he hasn't lost a step. Clues are deftly scattered, parallels emerge, the expected happens in unexpected ways, it's delightful. Woody speaks to our hearts and minds simultaneously.

Colin Firth is terrific; spot-on, serious and hilariously dry by turns. His character reminded me a little of Professor Higgins in "My Fair Lady." A man confident in his own superior knowledge - until he encounters real magic - the kind of magic all of us have the possibility of experiencing.

Emma Stone is revealed as an actress of easy and convincing grace. Of course, she's beautiful, too, which is never a disadvantage. Both Miss Stone's and Mr. Firth's characters are so well drawn you can't imagine anyone doing it better.

If you're old enough to have lived a little, this film will appeal to you. If you are currently loving Ninja Turtles, this piece of inspiring magic will sail over your head.

Bravo to Woody and his tremendous cast. Well done, ladies and gentlemen.
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Good Date Movie
cloud_nine3 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Critics have written pretty savage reviews of this film but my date and I liked it quite a bit. The country gardens were pastoral, the background music toe tapping and the acting very good. Allen's casting is always excellent even for small parts. Even "only fair" Woody Allen is far better than this summer's CGI releases. The audience applauded at the end.

The dialog was typical Allen. The lead male and female characters took Allen's own opposing views on God and spirituality. He wants to believe but in the end rationalism wins out. So does love.

My only criticism is the "screen door" effect of digital filming. The movie looks as if we were viewing it through a screen. The country scenes would have been much sharper and colorful on film.

A minor point: The music piece "Bolero", played early in the film, wasn't composed and premiered until late 1929, a short time after this story takes place.
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Not much magic under this moon
Galina_movie_fan24 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
For the 46th time, the viewers who came to see the latest Woody Allen's picture are greeted with his familiar calling card, the black screen with elegant white subtitles that is a portal to the new world created by the tireless workaholic whose motto is - no single year without a movie. This time, he takes us to Europe of the late 1920s, at the end of the short lull between two most devastating wars of the 20th century. After brief stop in Berlin, the plot moves to the luxurious villa on the seaside of French Riviera where the owners, their guests and neighbors are all excited about otherworldly and supernatural phenomena inexplicable by science.

Do Cassandra's and Sybil's really exist among us? Can they foresee the future and read the past, based on the mental images that are projected directly into their consciousness? Are they really a medium between the material and spiritual worlds? Famous circus magician, skeptic and atheist Stanley (Colin Firth) responds scornfully: "No!" And he is ready to expose one such Sybil, red- haired and green-eyed young American woman Sophie (Emma Stone). Acrimonious and sarcastic,Stanley has no doubts that he will immediately uncover the impostor, but to his utmost surprise he realizes that Sophie knows his hidden secrets, weaknesses, regrets and unfulfilled dreams he never admitted to anyone. Maybe, unknown and hidden forces exist after all?

The picture is beautiful to look at. Shot by Darius Khondji, who has worked on three Allen's films of lately, the French Riviera arises from a dream, wrapped in beauty, serenity and luxury. The problem was, first and foremost, a colorless screenplay which subject Allen might have borrowed from one of his recent London pictures. There is nothing wrong with re-using one's own ideas, and it was Allen who once said: "Steal from the best". But he wrote the script for Magic in the Moonlight without a drop of inspiration or magic. Easily predictable movie drags in the middle hoping for magic to move it towards the final black screen with the white letters adding up to the word "End". What could have been charming romantic period piece/comedy turned bland, devoid of originality and sadly did not allow talented actors Marcia Gay Harden and Jackie Weaver to shine in the supporting roles. This is unfortunate because in Allen's movies even inanimate objects can give exciting performance.

Another problem was director's decision to make a romantic comedy, which, by definition, must end with the close-up of two heroes either lost to the world in an endless kiss or looking into each other's eyes with tenderness that softly melts the screen. Stanley and Sophie share no spark, no "chemistry" that would make the viewers believe in the possibility of romance developing between them. Much more "chemistry" has arisen between Sophie and pretty dresses in the fashion of the late 1920s that were created for her by the talented costume designers. One of the cheerful dresses, white with a big red collar, clings to her gently, hugging her slender figure and highlighting unusual shade of her red hair. And perky black beret, holding on her pretty head at an impossible angle, may well qualify for an Oscar for best supporting role.

Perhaps, none of the modern actors can play a cocky and arrogant English snob better than Colin Firth what he has proved repeatedly. This time, though, he went so deeply into the character that when he had to switch to falling in love mood, the transition was sharp, sudden and not convincing.

With all this said, even pedestrian Woody Allen comedy is more elegant, polished and pleasant than most of the rom- coms produced by the big studios but vagueness, haste and not plausible final act weakened the magic of moonlight. It lacks the enchantment and spell of Paris at midnight that Allen created with light touch and inspiration three years ago.
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Movie Magic
lbenot27 August 2014
The basic story line/plot was the solid foundation for a very entertaining combination of very well-written dialog, a well-defined believable group of characters, fabulous interior and exterior period (1928) scenery, exquisite period costuming and music, and a terrific cast that brought it all to life.

Of particular note was the role of the aunt, so charmingly underplayed by a truly delightful veteran English actress. Her affected portrayal left me wanting more of her character (she'd be a welcome as-is walk-on for Downton Abbey).

The philosophic question regarding happiness that the story line raises had just the right subtle amplitude to leave one pondering, the humor fit the time period and the characters, and the whole tone and content of the movie had a lightness that elevated it's entertainment value.

A terrific and not often seen example of well-paced and entertaining story telling.
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In romance between illusionists the skeptic falls for the fraud
maurice_yacowar10 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Magic in the Moonlight may be a minor Allen but it's a superbly accomplished work. It revisits the themes of A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy. As Stanley, Colin Firth supplants Jose Ferrer as the hidebound believer in only the material reality. This Stanley is an upper class version of the Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire (which Allen drew upon for his previous Blue Jasmine -- see separate blogs). As Sophie Emma Stone plays the Mia Farrow waif who evokes the magic of a higher reality and love.

The film opens in 1928 Berlin, the heady cabaret days that will soon metastasize into the Nazi conflagration. The formally suited audience for Stanley's faux-Orientalist magic show and the glittery ball later in France exemplify the flippant pleasures that distract us from our mortality — and in this case the imminent war. Since Annie Hall Allen has reminded us that everything we do is a reaction to our sense of our mortality. There the cited text was Ernest Becker's The Denial of Death; here it's Nietszche. Hence the songs "I'll Get By" and "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows."

Stanley is an ironic exercise of Firth's persona as a stuffy, egotistical Englishman (Mr Darcy, Bridget Jones' boss) who needs a sparky young gal (Emma, Bridget) to wake him to the pleasures and sense in life. Allen emphasizes Firth's advancing age, his sagging jowls, and even greater priggishness and temper, which make his ultimate realization of his love and need for Sophie all the more dramatic.

Critics have complained that Firth and Stone show no sparks, but I'm sure that's Allen's intention. They meet as false fronts, she faking spiritual communication with the dead, he disguising his intention to expose her. Though they spar in the usual Ro Com way (ever since Benedick and Beatrice) they seem an unlikely couple. He's too committed to the rational and to exposing the fake to recognize any attraction to her until he's told about it. She is too dependent on the commercial success of her fakery and has far more to gain by wedding her besotted moneybags. But there's the song: "You call it madness, I call it love." In the end both choose vulnerability over the delusion of security. Death makes all security delusional. Both also choose honesty. If she were to marry the lad she deceived, her life would be based on a lie. If Stanley rejects her he would deny his need for the emotional connection he has averted all his shallow life. Each discovers in the other a truth about themselves.

Allen has long balanced the certain limits on life with the hopes for some fantasy or illusion that will transcend it. As he reiterates here, we need illusions to get us through life, to make our ineluctable mortality bearable. So Stanley makes a career out of being a magician, providing showbiz illusions, and the alliterative parallel Sophie makes her living — with sumptuous prospects now — out of bolstering her gulls with assuring lies from the dead. Stanley's fakery is on stage, Sophie's in life, but both are in the same business, selling illusions.

Stanley exposes fraudulent spiritualists because he wants to assure himself there is no spiritual reality beyond our physical world — and to maintain his monopoly on illusionism. Paradoxically, in the last scene when the exposed Sophie reappears in order to give the film its happy romantic ending, her very appearance — in the face of his flat statement that his proposal "offer is off the table" — she shows the kind of intuition and understanding that goes beyond the apparent — what she has been professionally faking. She uses the under the table seance knocks to announce her presence.

In the face of death we grab what small pleasures we can find. We attach meaning and importance to things that may not in themselves mean much. Whatever gets us through the night. Stanley realizes his love for Sophie by warmly remembering her smile. In Manhattan Isaac counts young Tracy's smile as one of the beauties that make life worth living. Allen also replays the planetarium scene as a reminder of the vastness which shrinks our lives into specks — and grows our every fugitive pleasure monumental. Sure Allen replays the same themes, scenes, imagery, Dixieland and period pop, but every recombination rings fresh and true — and pleasurable. In fact, Beethoven used the same notes over and over again too and who complains?

In quiet observant ways each scene rings true. Stanley rather brusquely converts to believing in Sophie because for all his arch rationalism he has craved a more ethereal beyond, some magic of which his illusionism is a smug parody. He earnestly tries to pray for his aunt's recovery — but can't maintain the pretence. Perhaps the film's most brilliant scene is Stanley's conversation with his marvellous Aunt Vanessa (Eileen Atkins). Every line each speaks reaffirms his fiancée Olivia as his ideal mate, yet the conclusion is the reverse, his need for Sophie. Like the material world the words go one way, but like the spiritual life the meaning and the effect work the other.

The illusionist Stanley is the Allen figure. As a filmmaker Allen fabricates illusory dramas, making characters and events appear as Stanley makes an elephant disappear and himself reappear. In the melding of reality and illusion Stanley's car trip with Sophie retraces the Grant-Kelly drive in To Catch a Thief. For the world of illusions has its own continuity, like the material world, but with more flex. Obviously the age gap between Stanley and Sophie evokes Allen's controversial gap with his wife (and Mia Farrow's with her last two husbands, Frank Sinatra and Andre Previn), but the heart will have its way. And given that we're all dying, why shouldn't we let it?
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A Starchy Rom-Com
borromeot14 January 2018
I saw another Woody Allen film, "Wonder Wheel" just the other day. I was overwhelmed by Kate Winslet's performance even if the film is not one of Allen's best, Kate Winslet makes it a must so I started searching for other Woody Allen films that I may have missed. Magic in the Moonlight (2014) I didn't even know this movie existed and it has Colin Firth in the lead. Colin Firth has been a favorite actor of mine since Apartment Zero (1988) and Emma Stone won the Oscar last year. I organized my evening to enjoy every minute of this unexpected treat. Well. the film looks wonderful and it has Eileen Atkins in it but the romantic aspect of the tale left me completely cold. Emma Stone projects discomfort more than anything else and Colin Firth performs as if he was on a stage. Every line is recited and their chemistry is also acted. By not believing in them the entire film felt like a plodding attempt at something that never materializes. Maybe next time.
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Pleasant and witty romantic comedy centered around illusion
Kicino22 September 2014
How can you not like Woody Allen's witty script? In Magic in the Moonlight it is brilliantly acted out by the beautiful Emma Stone and stubborn and cynical Colin Firth. Similar to Woody's Allen's other comedies, it is full of fast–paced witty and bitter dialogue, fixation on death and absurdity of life. But this time there is an additional element of illusion involved which ironically sets and overthrows the stage. As the story unfolds, we are as surprised as some of the characters and yet still feel life is good.

The movie opens with successful and famous magician Stanley (Colin Firth) being invited by his childhood friend Howard (Simon McBurney) to debunk the swindle of renowned spiritualist Sophie Baker (Emma Stone) from the US staying in a client's villa in the French Rivera. The client Grace (Jacki Weaver) and her son Bryce (Hemish Linklater) are so impressed with Sophie that he is going to marry her.

The airy and condescending Stanley arrives and is immediately taken aback by the seemingly magical power of Sophie. As their interaction intensifies, his rational and analytical ability begin to be shaken by her effortless, spontaneous and unexplainable reading and communication power.

Sophie, on the other hand, challenges his rationality while bringing out the romantic side of him without his own awareness. The twists and turns are extremely logical and pleasant to watch as designed by Woody Allen's script and unbelievably delivered by these two great actors. It is almost like a suspense story and we are sucked in right from the beginning to follow the cast and explore together. Emma Stone shines with her charming eyes and smiles while Colin Firth reminds us of a young and babbling Woody Allen.

As Sophie, Stanley and even Woody Allen make a living creating illusions, perhaps we are all living in a self-inflicted reality to help us get through life. But what's wrong with it if it enhances our senses, making us appreciate life and be happy?

Maybe we do not really need to be so rational all the time. Let our body tell us what is happening (Stanley's tossing around at night). Just go with the flow and enjoy the ride that life throws at us.
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rajmorgan-0965723 July 2017
Sophie , challenges his rationality while bringing out the romantic side of him without his own awareness. The twists and turns are extremely logical and pleasant to watch as designed by Woody Allen's script and unbelievably delivered by these two great actors. It is almost like a suspense story and we are sucked in right from the beginning to follow the cast and explore together. Emma Stone shines with her charming eyes and smiles while Colin Firth reminds us of a young and babbling Woody Allen.

As Sophie, Stanley and even Woody Allen make a living creating illusions, perhaps we are all living in a self-inflicted reality to help us get through life. But what's wrong with it if it enhances our senses, making us appreciate life and be happy?

Maybe we do not really need to be so rational all the time. Let our body tell us what is happening (Stanley's tossing around at night). Just go with the flow and enjoy the ride that life throws at us.
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Demanding is over-rated
bob-the-movie-man26 September 2014
Woody Allen's latest film Magic in the Moonlight, is a light and fluffy piece of movie confection set on the photogenic Cote d'Azur that delights the eye but hardly taxes the brain.

Set in the 1920's, Colin Firth plays Charlie Crawford, better known by his stage-name Wei Ling Soo: a magician who staggers his audience nightly by making elephants disappear and by teleporting across the stage.

As a quick aside, Firth's characters is almost certainly based on the American Chinese-styled magician Chung Ling Soo who amazed Victorian audiences with his magic and inscrutable attitude but died (messily) on stage at the Wood Green Empire in London when a bullet catching trick went wrong. Whilst never ever speaking English in public to maintain his mystique, his last words (in English) were "Oh my God. Something's happened. Lower the curtain.". Strange but true.

But I digress.

Crawford has an ego the size of one of his elephants, with a cynical and wholly scientific approach to life, devoid of passion, romance or any frivolity. Wholly unpleasant to all around him, he revels in the public and publicised debunking of fakery in the form of tricksters and mystics. As such, when his lifelong friend and fellow magician Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney, the archbishop from BBC TV's "Rev" ) confesses to being completely stumped as to how young and attractive mystic Sophie Baker (Emma Stone) is fooling her rich and gullible marks, Crawford can't resist the challenge. Leaving his fiancée, ice-queen Olivia (Catherine McCormack - "Braveheart", "28 Weeks Later"), in London, Crawford travels to the south of France - a man with a mission.

There he meets up with Sophie, her supportive mother (Marcia Gay Harden) and the rich Catledge family, who have fallen hook line and sinker for the young psychic's charms. This is particularly true of the younger son, the awful Ukulele-strumming crooner Brice (Hamish Linklater) who is already madly in love with her and intent on marriage. As a fully independent test, Crawford drives Sophie to visit his Aunt Vanessa (Eileen Atkins) in Provence and cannot believe what he sees and hears, becoming convinced - against all his normal instincts and beliefs - that Sophie is the 'real thing'.

Is Sophie actually the genuine article, and if not then how on earth is she tricking not one but two expert magicians? Can she possibly reject the millionaire Brice and walk off into the sunset with the spiky and unpleasant Crawford? All is revealed over a stress-free and untaxing 97 minutes.

After the joys of last year's "Blue Jasmine", Magic in the Moonlight is a much more back-pedalling sort of affair for Woody Allen. It comes across as extremely theatrical in nature, feeling more like it was written for the stage rather than the screen: you can almost hear the stage hands shifting props between some of the scenes.

I'm a fan of Colin Firth, but I'm afraid he rather over-eggs the acting pudding in this. The particularly obnoxious Charlie of the first half of the film is about 20% over-cooked for me, and a long way from his Oscar-winning performance in "The King's Speech", although the performance improves towards the end as his character thaws a bit into more 'Firth-friendly' territory.

Emma Stone is, as always, delightful. A wise woman (my wife!) commented that in 20 years Stone will "be the new Meryl Streep", and I would agree. A quality actress with a wide range that feels like it hasn't been fully tapped yet.

But the performance of the film for me was Aileen Atkins as Aunt Vanessa, who is just marvellous in every scene she appears in, particularly the two-hander with Firth in the final reel. An actress with 50 years of hard-won experience in TV acting behind her and every hour of that experience up on the screen. I doubt she'd get it, but it would be lovely to see a Best Supporting Actress nod for her for this role.

The scenery is stunningly photographed by Darius Khondji, although one scene really puzzled me: at the first meeting of Charlie and Sophie the shot is almost directly into the sun, with a character's parasol sometimes (but not always) blocking the sun out and delivering more lens flare, albeit genuine lens flare, than a JJ Abrams movie. I'm not sure why this was done this way, but it just came across as amateurish and irritating.

The soundtrack is taken from jaunty jazz staples of the era which work well for most of the time but are at times jarring and ill-suited.

In summary, not a classic Woody Allen but a very pleasant and lightly humorous film that older audiences in particular will enjoy. If you liked "The 100 Foot Journey", you'll probably enjoy this too.

(If you enjoyed this review please see my archive of other reviews at Thanks).
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lazy and boring
ambidaud25 October 2014
I would have loved to love this film, considering the director and the very talented Colin Firth. But alas! It is very boring, much too talkative, with lines so long- though empty -, to deliver by the actors, with hardly any camera movements. Very much like a play being filmed while the director is taking a nap or died on the way. Almost always frontal camera, not getting closer to the actors from time to time, as if the camera was stuck on the 5th row of the theater. The love story is very lame, and poor Colin Firth not credible one second. What about the message? You don't have to quote Nietszche (not sure about the spelling...) extensively to suggest that rationality in life is not everything and that you need some magic and emotions to enjoy it. Woody Allen should retire. He becomes an embarrassment.
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Lightweight Woody, but the Dedicated Fan Will Enjoy It
pacwarbuff4 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The film itself is one of Woody's lighter efforts but thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless. The costumes, sets, photography, choice of music (mostly Bix Beiderbecke) were all exquisite. Fans of '20s jazz will love the soundtrack. Cast performances were all consistently good, with no weak links, though Marcia Gay Harden had nothing to do whatsoever. She was utterly wasted here, which is a shame. Emma Stone was delightful and cute. She gets to wear the most gorgeous clothes and is charming as the young woman who may or may not be a spiritual medium. She and Firth had nice chemistry together with their banter sounding natural and completely unforced. It may be testament to their acting ability but they made a believable couple, which of course doesn't happen until the end, so the two maintain the tension necessary until the denouement. The infamous age gap "issue" was never a factor at any time.

Woody's script is not one of his finest. Though necessary, there is a lot of exposition at the beginning and the story's "big twist" is easily figured out. I had it in about ten minutes or so, but that can be forgiven by the dedicated Allen fan. Too many scenes lack the punch of making Sophie and Stanley a romantic couple. There's a brief bit in an observatory and on their many drives along the French coast, but they feel padded; however, thanks to Firth and Stone as well as the cinematography and music, these scenes are never dull, but there should have been more substance to them.

The real attraction in "Magic in the Moonlight" is Colin Firth. He plays an aspect of the Woody persona usually farmed out to great actors like Max Von Sydow; the caustic, sarcastic, and unlikable cynic, though Firth is so talented that he is likable despite his character's arrogance and rudeness which is displayed right from the time we meet him. The other characters comment on this but deal with it in that classy 1920s upper class way.

Recurring Allen themes and motifs: escaping the thunderstorm to take refuge in an observatory (Manhattan), the older man wanting to take on the younger woman as his protégée and lover, the cruelty and pointlessness of existence, illusion as palliative, magicians, and the transient nature of beauty.
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Disappointing, to say the least.
MacTheMovieguy8 August 2014
I wish Woody Allen was more consistent. I feel like I love every-other-film of his. Case in point, I loved Blue Jasmine, but not To Rome With Love, but I loved Midnight In Paris. I should love his next film then, because I didn't care for Magic In The Moonlight.

A lot of my not caring for the film lies with Emma Stone. I absolutely love Emma Stone, and was excited to see what Woody Allen would do with her. He's stripped her of everything that makes her likable, and forced her to speak his dialogue word-for-word, and it's actually painful to watch. She doesn't speak like Woody, and she struggles to figure out how to say every phrase he's given her. It's like watching someone who can't act for an hour and a half, but it's worse here, because I loved Emma Stone in The Help, Easy A, and Zombieland. I've also heard she's good in Birdman. Woody Allen and Emma Stone don't go together.

More importantly because of this, Stone is never comfortable in her role. She never connects to her character, and never forms a connection with Colin Firth (who actually isn't bad in his role). But the film hinges on these two having chemistry, and they don't. It's a miscast of epic proportions, because it brings the whole film down. I enjoyed parts of the film, but they were mostly the parts that Emma Stone wasn't on screen. Eileen Atkins is a standout in her role.

The concept actually isn't bad. A magician is brought in to prove that a girl is faking that she has psychic powers. She's so good at what she does, she ends up convincing him, and he falls in love with her. She ends up falling for him. It should have been a good movie, but it was ruined, and Allen seemed to not notice.

I wonder if Woody is happy with the finished product, or if he realized halfway through that he'd made a mistake, and just finished the film as best he could. I probably would have just told Emma Stone to start ad-libbing, and hoping that she'd fall into the character if she was speaking her own words. Woody is too proud of a writer/director to do that. But sometimes, you get it wrong, and you can either put your foot down and freight train through the wreckage, or you can try and fix what's happened. Woody just drove straight through the wreckage.

There are worse films this year, and a charming script tries so hard to make up for the shortcomings of the finished product. It's a frustrating film, because I can directly pinpoint where it went wrong, and I have a feeling that a simple recast could have changed the entire movie. Sure, it's not as deep as Blue Jasmine was, but it could have been a little piece of magic over the summer when we often get so little. Disappointing, to say the least.
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Simply magic
zendatrim17 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Loved it brilliantly written by a genius Woody Allen one of my favorites.

I loved the story it kept me captivated the story well done with a nice twist.

Woody Allen at his best, and I loved Colin Firths character he does so well.

It doesn't start off as a romance but ends up as one.

The female lead played a brilliant part, and shamefully i do have to say i worked out the plot very quickly but it didn't spoil the film for me not at all.
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Magic or Not?
tonyblass21 August 2014
Woody Allen's 45th film in as many years, the wondrously poetic yet intellectually dazzling "Magic in the Moonlight", proves once again that he is the greatest living American director. Virtually without peer, besides the prodigious output, no one moves as effortlessly between styles and genres while still managing to grapple with the usual existential themes in new and exciting ways: is love really real, magical vs. rational thinking, cynicism vs. optimism. Like the master magician here played so brilliantly by Colin Firth, he manages to use illusion to ensnare you, to keep you guessing at the outcome despite his classicist's adherence to form and tradition. But like an artist, he is also as enthralled as we, as lost in the journey, as anxious about the final determination of the question of life's purpose and meaning or complete lack of it. Once again he proves that he is both right and wrong in his cynical outlook on life, that rationality and irrationality can coexist perfectly, that one cannot judge or evaluate the other fairly as neither has a framework to understand the other. Absurd and frothy on the one hand, nuanced and emotional on the other, it manages to be at once a light, popular entertainment and great work of cinematic art.
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Charming Woody Allen light
vistheindian23 August 2014
Quickie Review:

Stanley a.k.a. Wei Ling Soo (Colin Firth), is a renowned stage magician and a charlatan mystic debunker. He goes on to meet Sophie (Emma Stone) who claims to be a legitimate mystic. As a skeptic Stanley feels the need to unmask Sophie as a fraud, but in this process both of them build an unexpected romance. This is a movie that has lot of the Woody Allen whimsy we have come to love. A charming romantic comedy that is delightful to spend an afternoon on but ultimately lacks the impact to make it an instant Woody Allen classic.

Full Review:

Magic in the Moonlight has been largely unnoticed by majority of the general movie-going audience. Yet from the trailers it peeked my interest enough to get me to watch it in the cinema. I expected it to be a good time pass and it was exactly that. I left satisfied but I have the feeling that in time I will not remember much about this movie.

It's no surprise that Colin Firth and Emma Stone were the highlight. They have proved themselves time and time again that they are excellent actors, and they continue to be so in their roles. I especially liked the character Stanley, he is rude, obnoxious, narcissistic, basically everything that would make you hate the person in real life, and yet as Sophie puts it "it's not entirely unappealing." The character Sophie has all the opposite traits, which makes for some great banter between the two. Their chemistry together sprinkled with some light quirky comedic moments is what makes the movie work. Also I must say the use of the wonderful backdrop of 60s southern France is enchanting.

I'm trying to think of the negatives but I honestly can't think of any in particular. Then you may ask, why am I not giving this the perfect score? Well frankly put, I've seen it done better, not only in this genre but also from Woody Allen, for example the award-winning Midnight in Paris. So despite it being entertaining I think for the general audience they might find the movie quite forgettable. Even the die-hard Woody Allen fans will admit that this movie is quite light on the director's style.

So when it comes down to it would I recommend it to watch it in the cinemas? Only if you like Woody Allen movies. For everyone else I'd definitely recommend to give it a chance once it's released on DVD/Blu- ray or streaming services. It's worthwhile your time when you are aimlessly browsing the Netflix library.

Check out more on my movie review blog The Stub Collector:
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What we got on our hands is a dead shark
EephusPitch31 July 2014
"A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark." - Alvy Singer

A gorgeous, sumptuous movie: wonderful cinematography, great, Jazz Age music (as well as Beethoven), the Cote d'Azur, Eileen Atkins, Colin Firth in full Mr. Darcy mode, Emma Stone… what could possibly be amiss? Well, it seems in the midst of all the prettiness and lovely fixtures, Woody forgot to include some energy. The result is a film which, while sporadically quite enjoyable, and even funny, feels curiously airless. Falls into the category of Woody's oeuvre which includes "A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy", "Radio Days", "Melinda and Melinda", and "Scoop": movies which are not at all bad, but are almost instantly forgettable.
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Pretty mediocre Allen work
latinfineart23 November 2014
I am a Woody Allen fan. Not a die hard fan, but he has made some damn good movies over the past decade or so, and that is after I thought he had become irrelevant. This is certainly not one of them. It is a plodding sort of affair, with few bright moments. And it lacked much humor or much pathos. Not really a worthwhile affair, in my book. I feel now, like I would have rather spent two hours reading a book, or getting a massage. I realize you can't win them all, and I realize he cannot always make a good film. The characters were fine, the acting was good, and the sets and production were gorgeous. Just not much of a story to tell.
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Shallow, uninspired drivel
andrearoseacri2 January 2015
I kind of knew what I was getting into with a Woody Allen flick, but this movie was shockingly boring. I was actually startled by it. The actors totally phoned it in. Can't blame them, since the writing was so bad. After the King's Speech, not to mention Woody Allen's recent various exploits, I can only imagine that Colin Firth was offered an embarrassingly large pile of money to play this part. The central idea of the movie was shallow, lazily conceived and poorly explored. The dialogue meant to convey that idea was wooden and utterly unconvincing. These were some of the least engaging characters in a movie that I can think of. I absolutely did not care about them, what happened to them, or whether they would get together in the end. Just awful.
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Lovely romantic comedy in which Emma Stone is as beautiful as an oasis in a grim desert and Colin Firth is his usual English clumsy self. Just lovely, lovely.
imseeg21 January 2019
Woody Allen is a pessimist, yet he keeps churning out all these romantic movies as an antidote against the cruel and rational world he lives in. And this movie is exactly about that subject which relates to all those people who have to believe in something magical out there in order to keep their lives bearable.

The story? Emma Stone is a psychic fortune teller who can read people's minds. Colin Firth a rational man who wants to reveal that Emma is a fraud. Will he succeed in revealing the truth or will something entirely else and more lovely start to blossom during his investigation?

Emma Stones eyes have never seem bluer and Colin Firth is his usual English clumsy self. Those 2 actors are a comedy match made in a romantic heaven and the result called "Magic in the Moonlight" is just lovely, lovely. Suited for all ages, for anyone who just wants to have a laugh and dream away with a romantic movie with a terrific feel good vibe.
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provocative story about psychic scams
manx986 September 2014
The film was very classy. Why don't the production companies make more of this quality ? It was great to see the French and English countryside. I felt the story very compelling. costuming and sets were wonderful. It brought to light the mystery of psychic séances. Marcia Gay Harden was good as a supporter of her daughter's claimed ability to contact the dead. Colin Firth is always a treat. He, a professional illusionist goes around debunking people who claim to be able to contact the dead. Magic in the moonlight refers to the stars and moon as seen in the late night sky. The moon is at it's brightest. The two main stars talk about their earliest impressions of looking at the night sky. Very romantic.
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Terrible and boring
abigail2088216 January 2015
Such a disappointing movie! The trailer was better than the movie itself! The plot doesn't make any sense and doesn't progress in a way that makes you believe in the world the movie is trying to create. Some scenes are so ridiculous it's embarrassing to watch. The scene where Stanley is at the hospital is one and from that moment the movie stops making any sense at all and becomes funny (but not for the right reasons).

But even worst than that are the dialogues. They are not believable at all! Who speaks like that? Also the actors just sound like their saying the lines out loud like they're reading a manual! The leading actors are usually good so it shows that the problem is with the script. I made myself watch it to the end hoping it would get better but it didn't.
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