Image: Perdido Productions
For me, Magic in the Moonlight seems less a film and more a feature-length TV drama episode. I would like to assure you I am no expert on the Woody Allen film catalogue, so I cannot offer an opinion of this film in any other context than its own.
The film isn’t entirely dislikeable, gaining a certain charm from its easy-going and traditional style intended to emulate simplicity perhaps unapparent in a lot of film today. However this similarly comes across as severely unadventurous, and perhaps what made a pleasant premise a rather dull film.
Colin Firth plays his usual emotionally unavailable but loveable Englishman, this time a stage conjuror. He grapples with his overt atheism, realism and perhaps even his reserved ‘Englishness’ whilst attempting to debunk an American spiritualist medium (Emma Stone) in the South of France. The film features some truly beautiful locations, at times giving you the impression that you’re watching an advertisement for a luxury Côte d’Azur get-away. Many scenes occur purely to show off a little more of these fabulous chateaus, gardens and coastlines and not for any reason that would progress the plot.
The film particularly suffers from poor dialogue, at times coming across as stilted and forced, with characters clearly waiting for one another to finish speaking and never naturally interjecting. All key narrative strands and character traits are also repeatedly explained through conversation to the point that a goldfish would find it simple enough to keep up.
It’s light, it’s forgettable, it’s unadventurous and very formulaic.
If you are planning to go and see this film and feel you may need a more stimulating challenge whilst watching, perhaps try finding one French person present in Allen’s vision of the South of France. I don’t believe there’s a single one.