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WOODY ALLEN'S MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT

year: 2014 rating: **
Throughout the years, Woody Allen has made mincemeat out of faith and religion, and yet he often treats physics and mediums with a degree of… reverence, sort of…

In eclectic films ranging from BROADWAY DANNY ROSE to CELEBRITY, lady fortunetellers are hardly the dolts of his Christians and Catholics, or even pretentious intellectual atheists. The seers often drive the plot by foretelling events and basically know what they’re doing. So here we have a collision of The Occult and God, which, to believe in either is downright preposterous…

Well that's the opinion of one of the most cynical characters to cross into Woody cinema for years. Enter Oscar winning Colin Firth as Stanley, a man who knows a thing or two about what’s fact and fiction... With a penchant for Nietzsche and a cold distrust for all things mystical, he’s a renown magician/illusionist during the late 1920s, a dreamy aura where MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT is set, resembling an F. Scott Fitzergerald novel or the nostalgic universe from MIDNIGHT IN PARIS, only for real this time.

"This sure isn't Manhattan."
The plot is unveiled quickly after establishing Stanley’s big stage act – he’s called upon to "unmask" a possible charlatan who could be taking advantage of a rich family, including and especially a one-dimensional sap madly in love with the pretty young psychic, Emma Stone’s Sophie. With such an incredible gift at seeing into people’s past, she eventually makes a believer out of Stanley…

Yet with all the ingredients intact, MOONLIGHT fails as a romantic comedy, twofold: Firth’s perpetual sarcasm blots out any trace of likable humor while Stone lacks the necessary quirky charm for either character to be interesting enough for the audience, much less each other. Even during a thunderstorm, when the soaking wet duo find shelter in a stargazing observatory ala Woody and Diane Keaton in MANHATTAN, their combined MAGIC is practically nonexistent.  

The only highlight is a clever twist ending, leaving just enough time for the odd couple to realize what's been  apparent the whole time. If not for love, why would these dull people be in a movie at all? Or perhaps they exist to spout Allen’s philosophies, which we’ve experienced in other projects in a far more entertaining fashion.
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