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Magic in the Moonlight

Year: 2014
Production Co: Gravier Productions
Director: Woody Allen
Writer: Woody Allen
Cast: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Simon McBurney, Jacki Weaver, Hamish Linklater, Marcia Gay Harden

If you listen to the critics, this was one of Allen's 'off' films. But it's unmistakably Woody's film, from the jazz title track and instantly recognisable typeface to the themes of star cross'd love, comedy of romantic errors style and bad timing.

Colin Firth is Stanley, a cynical and grumpy stage magician who makes a living on the side exposing fake psychics and mystics in 1920s Europe.

When he accepts an invitation by his friend Howard (Simon McBurney) to travel to France for a conquest, he can barely be bothered. But when he meets Sophie (Emma Stone), who seems to have the wool pulled over the eyes of an aging and very rich family matriarch (Jacki Weaver), he's as smitten as he is up for the challenge.

The longer it takes Stanley to expose Sophie, the more he falls for her, and indeed starts to reject everything he's always believed about spirituality, finding himself believing in God, the spirit, ghosts and everything else Sophie represents.

The gag of the entire movie – as is Allen's usual modus operandi – is that there is real magic, but in a world where we fall so irrationally in love, we don't need ghosts, spirits or God.

When the twist comes you've kind of been expecting something like it, and although the film has Allen's usual themes and motifs about love set in the romantic idyll of a bygone era, you can't help but agree with the critics. It's got the usual whimsy and sense of the fates and gods laughing at us and our foibles, but it's missing whatever verve makes his best films so good.

And yes, the love interest between Colin Firth and Emma Stone is creepy – especially coming from Allen himself after his past.

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