We have all believed in magic. From Santa and Disneyland to a mother’s kiss instantly healing a scraped knee, magic surrounds the innocent. As we grow up, we conclude that the innocent are also ignorant. We believed in magic because we did not know the trickery behind each fable.
But is the definition of magic limited to disappearing elephants and fairy tale lands? In the romantic comedy “Magic in the Moonlight,” director and writer Woody Allen humorously explores the greater meaning of magic.
However, not every character willingly accepts this exploration. Colin Firth (“The King’s Speech”) stars in “Magic in the Moonlight” as the realistic, arrogant, great magician Stanley. He asserts, “I am a rational man who lives in a rational world, every other way is madness.”
Sophie Baker (Emma Stone, “The Amazing Spider-Man”), a naive and girlish yet opinionated psychic is there to prove Stanley wrong and show him that magic is alive and well.
Sophie has traveled to England from Michigan with her mother, and begins, without fail, to confirm to Stanley that her telepathic gift is not deception but true magic.
“Just because you can duplicate my miracles in no way proves mine are not real,” she boldly states to Stanley. Stanley cannot be easily convinced to believe in magic because it “challenges our whole concept of reality.”
He recognizes Sophie’s gift but is afraid of the unknown. If magic were real, he would have to re-question life, death, the metaphysical – everything – for magic means faith, and faith is not realistically logical.
Stanley becomes torn between reason – what he has based his entire life off thus far – and magic, which people are convinced of but he has never believed himself.
Together, the pair of Firth and Stone is excellent. They are both fabulous actors on their own, but together, their strengths shine. The mixture of Firth’s quizzical looks and endearing, accented rambles, and Stone’s comedic style give way to a movie where the viewer continues laughing and loving every minute of the pair’s interactions.
They’re awkward, but it’s the kind of awkward that works. Combine this duo’s acting with Allen’s directing and writing and some might call the resulting art magic.
Set in 1920s England, the staging of “Magic in the Moonlight” is impeccable. The scenery and styling is remarkably realistic, transporting the viewer to the time of elaborate flapper dresses, badminton played on grass courts and romance where emotions were conveyed through spoken words as opposed to texting.
The film’s soundtrack includes tunes of the time and is very telling of the mood, as it builds drama and tension according to the emotions of the characters. And each scene seems to have been filmed at the light’s golden hour. The glorious lighting, background sounds and 1920s visuals enhance the movie’s theme and open the viewer up to the possibility of magic.
As stubborn Stanley expresses, “I believe each of us must find a reason to embrace life.” That reason may be faith, love or passion, but finding the part of life worth living for is what we all desire to discover.
I left “Magic in the Moonlight” feeling hopeful and optimistic; a truly innocent, feel-good movie is hard to come by. Allen created “Magic in the Moonlight” to give viewers a sense of hope – hope in life.
And who knows, maybe we will find a little magic along the way.
– Contact Blake Massullo