I like Woody Allen films. There, I’ve said it. Particularly in the past twelve months, heaps of people have come under flak for admitting that they like his films – unsurprising, since Dylan Farrow last year accused him of molesting her when she was a child. Though he wasn’t formally charged, and refused to acknowledge the allegations, the fact that he married his step-daughter already had a lot of people raising eyebrows.
While I can understand why people would want to boycott his films, when possible I try to separate the artist and the artist’s work, so to speak. I don’t encourage criminals who make an income from their crimes (which, now that I think about it, is actually against the law), but currently Woody Allen hasn’t been charged with anything illegal. Guilty until proven innocent, right?
Plus, if I’m completely honest, then I’ll also admit to loving both Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck – one who was an angry drunk who cheated on his wife, the other who was a racist who once said that Arabs were the dirtiest thing on the planet. Needless to say, neither of them have traits that I aspire to. Yet, because of their brilliant writing, I can’t help but read their books.
Now that I’ve given this review a somewhat lengthy intro, as a way to warn people that yes, I do like Woody Allen, I’ll formally begin by saying that last week, I saw Magic in the Moonlight, starring Colin Firth and Emma Stone, and I absolutely loved it. Critics may be lukewarm about it, but damn, it was one of my favourite films of the year. Plus, critics have never stopped me before.
Set in the 1920s, Colin Firth plays a magician, Stanley, who masquerades as the famous Wei Ling Soo (I’m going to hope that Woody Allen was being racist solely as a reflection of the times), while also debunking fraudulent psychics. When his friend and fellow magician, Howard, asks for his help to unmask a young psychic, Sophie (Emma Stone), Stanley immediately sets off for the south of France to do what he does best – bring the cold, harsh reality to those who have been fooled. Only problem is, the more time he spends with Sophie, the more uncertain he is about reality and he begins to question what he never believed possible – can magic really exist?
The magic in Magic in the Moonlight largely references the magic that occurs between Stanley and Sophie, yet while both of the actors are personable, charming and very attractive, it is still a bit creepy when you consider that Colin Firth is 53, while Emma Stone is 25. Extra creepy when you realise this closely resembles Woody Allen’s real-life marriage. Oh well. For the sake of the movie, I tried to put this out of my head, and for the most part I could.
The best bits about Magic in the Moonlight are the cinematography, the costumes, the lighting – basically everything about how the film looks. The scenery, set in the south of France, is achingly beautiful, and it is only improved by the chateau that the film is set in, complete with ocean views, sweeping lawns and a gasp-inducing garden. Topped with multiple scenes that showcase roads along cliff faces, the film couldn’t have been shot in a place more beautiful.
What really captured the feel of the film was the gorgeous outfits, as the 1920s seemed to excel in, combined with natural light that Allen obviously used to his advantage. The overall feel was a relaxing, romantic time and place, where things weren’t stressful or hurried, and pleasures were the main concern. Take me there, please!
While some critics have said that the storyline was a little ‘too light’ compared to other Allen films, I thought it charming and entertaining. Yes, it was relatively light, but that didn’t stop it from including beautiful gems that were just on the right side of sentimental, sarcastic one-liners and a smooth plot line that seemed neither hurried, nor dull. In short, it was exactly the type of thing one would expect from a Woody Allen film, based in the south of France, centred around love. Plus, despite their age difference, who doesn’t love watching a film that has both Colin Firth and Emma Stone, who are not only great actors, but seem to have that undefinable feature of always being likeable, attractive and charming, regardless of what their character is doing?
In short, I loved this film. It was smart, witty, charming and very likeable. The look and feel of the film, coupled with accomplished actors and a pleasant storyline lead to a blissful way to spend two hours on my Friday night. If you’re after something light and entertaining, that is still of a very high quality, then I’d recommend Magic in the Moonlight.
Have you seen Magic in the Moonlight? Are you a fan of Woody Allen’s films? Have you started boycotting them after what has been reported in the media? Let me know!