Written by Ryan Hackland
Woody Allen is an iconic and daring director. Inspired by Groucho Marx and Bob Hope, Allen has gone from a stand up comedian, to an actor to a director with an international cult following. Films such as “Midnight in Paris” and the “Purple Rose of Cairo” tell the story of people wanting to escape from their dismal realities. “Magic in the Moonlight” is no exception to this central theme.
The movie begins in a crowded theater where Stanley Crawford, aka Wei Ling Su (Colin Firth), is performing magic tricks. As the film progresses Stanley is revealed to be a snobbish, overly logical, self indulgent jerk, driven only by his craft and a yearning to expose fraudulent mystics. His outlook changes shortly after his encounter with Sophie Baker (Emma Stone) a medium who claims to be genuine. In the beginning Sophie seems relatively unfazed by Stanley’s skepticism both because she already knows all of his secrets and because the less skeptical characters find Stanley’s attitude unpleasant. Despite being a romantic comedy Sophie remains neutral toward both Stanley and Brice, her awkward Ukulele playing suitor, for the first half of the film. In addition most of the comedy is in the style of British sarcasm or irony.
Eileen Atkins, who plays Stanley’s aunt Vanessa, is spot-on in her role of being the sweet yet brutally honest figure that makes Stanley see the error of his ways. The message that Allen is trying to convey with this film is simple enough. Stanley is a man whose beliefs are grounded in science, so much so that he thinks that the world is no more magical than the illusions he performs on stage. Though he is intent on exposing parlor tricks for what they are, he fails to realize that there is one magic that even science can’t debunk: The magic of love.