Stars: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden
Magic in the Moonlight is a lighthearted movie set in 1929 southern France, written and directed by Woody Allen. It stars the noteworthy Colin Firth, who plays Stanley Crawford, a world famous magician by trade. He is a rather arrogant and cynical individual who lives a life driven by logic. He sees no grand creation, purpose, or life beyond the grave. As a result, he’s a rather rational, dull, and unhappy person.
When a friend and professional colleague invites him to meet a woman who claims to be a spiritualist, Stanley jumps at the chance to debunk and expose the charlatan. Everyone who meets Sophie, played by Emma Stone, is fascinated by her obvious psychic abilities. Along with her mother, they have infiltrated a very rich family that will be donating to Sophie’s planned psychic foundation. In addition, she has caught the eye of Brice, a very rich young man who wants to marry her and take her around the world.
Stanley, however, is convinced that it is all a ruse. She is, after all, planning to dupe and steal from unsuspecting and simple-minded individuals who don’t know any better. Invited by his friend to expose her trickery and save the Catledge family from being scammed, Stanley challenges Sophie soon after their first meeting. After his unsuccessful attempts to debunk her authenticity, his own beliefs regarding life and death are tested. In an uncharacteristic change, he admits defeat and embraces the gift that Sophie has been given. For the first time in his life, he believes in something beyond logic.
I will not spoil the outcome of Stanley’s quest for truth in life, except to say that it was a mildly entertaining film. Woody Allen’s movies have a flavor, and this one is no different. The music, cars, and fashions of the roaring twenties fill your senses. The movie is visually soft and golden, with breathtaking scenery. Colin is looking fit and trim, but definitely not the young Mr. Darcy of his day. Emma Stone, beautiful and young, is an unlikely match for the much older Mr. Firth. Nevertheless, their sparring with each other made for a certain humorous chemistry. Once again, it is an age appropriate movie for the older generation. By the count of elderly patrons in the theater, it is definitely not for the younger generation. I had a few good laughs with my friend, who attended the show with me, as we counted the gray-haired moviegoers.
In the end, the movie does succeed in challenging the audience regarding their own beliefs about life. We either believe the logical in what we can see and prove, or we believe in the magical of the unseen and things we cannot explain. Are people who are logical likely to be unhappy and cynical, compared to those who believe and have hope?
Whether you believe in anything or not, perhaps it’s just experiencing love that gives us a reason for living. That is, the Magic in the Moonlight.