Movie Review: ‘Magic in the Moonlight’

Review of Magic in the Moonlight
Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’ (Photo by Jack English © 2014 Gravier Productions, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

“My mental impressions are cloudy,” says Sophie Baker (Emma Stone), a spirit-medium. “Are they cumulus clouds or cirrus?’ replies Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth), a great magician and first-rate fake spiritualist debunker in Woody Allen’s comedy film, Magic in the Moonlight.


Approached by his only friend Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney), Stanley travels to the Côte d’Azur mansion of the Catledge family where he’s determined to reveal that the so-called clairvoyant Sophie, who’s staying with the family and has the mother convinced she can communicate with her dead husband, is nothing more than a con woman and a fraud. This becomes more and more difficult however when, after spending only a little time with her, Sophie begins to reveal things about Stanley’s life that she has no way of knowing. This causes Stanley to begin to wonder if Sophie is the genuine article and to consider that perhaps there is more to life and the hereafter than meets the eye.

Stilted and tedious, Magic in the Moonlight fails to be either magical or romantic. Colin Firth is perfect as Stanley Crawford, the arrogant Englishman illusionist who prides himself on being smarter than anyone he knows or has ever met. Firth’s the absolute best thing about the film. Emma Stone gives perhaps her worst performance to date – yes, even worse than the Amazing Spider-Man films – as Sophie, the spirit medium who might just be the real thing. It’s an uneven, unconvincing and overdone portrayal of a woman who is either a very good con artist or a true clairvoyant. She also has zero chemistry with Firth which makes the second half of the film as the two are supposed to be developing feelings for each other uncomfortable to watch.

The script is incredibly weak, especially for a Woody Allen film, and Magic in the Moonlight becomes too painfully predictable half-way through. A perfect example of this is when Stanley and Sophie are driving back from town and the car breaks down…what should happen next? Why, a rainstorm of course…Oh Please!!

Sadly, Magic in the Moonlight is a forgettable and uninspired film which should be missed.

GRADE: D+

Magic in the Moonlight is rated PG-13 for a brief suggestive comment, and smoking throughout.

– Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty

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