Director: Woody Allen
Magic in the Moonlight is a bit of a turkey, it’s to Blue Jasmine as Scoop was to Match Point; in fact it’s almost just Scoop rewritten/restaged for the crowd that loved Midnight In Paris – that extra crowd of fair-weather fans. And with the jokes removed.
Look, I’ve sat through almost every Woody Allen film – and I make excuses for most of the ones people don’t really like, or write off without seeing, but this is a bit of a stinker. Colin Firth borrowing an old John Cleese performance isn’t the big issue here, Emma Stone having almost nothing to do and not a jot to say isn’t even the issue – and having seen almost every Woody Allen film I’m not remotely concerned with the fact that Firth plays an older gent who is forceful as a cultural snob and looks about set to hook up with one of his daughter’s friends. None of that is as profoundly criminal as a Woody Allen film with frankly stiff – often clunky, even terrible dialogue. That’s the real crime (and misdemeanour) here.
Out-boring Whatever Works and focussing almost entirely on the look and feel of the film – it’s a stunning, gorgeous setting, period costumes and the cinematography of Darius Khondji that is the take-home from this movie – Magic in the Moonlight is more about the moonlightthan the magic. There’s really no screen magic here, beyond Allen sucking the life out of the film by presenting unlikeable characters but parading them about still in this masquerade-ball of a rom-com.
It’s not the worst Woody Allen film – and a bad Woody film is still better than many – but it’s probably only getting a theatrical release in New Zealand because of Blue Jasmine being so great and the flow-on, still, from Midnight In Paris.
It’ll likely be the last Allen film to receive a theatrical release here for a few years.
But he’ll bounce back. Another dud or two perhaps, another under-appreciated one written off and then perhaps another surprise hit. He’s done enough and this film won’t dent his aura – but you do wonder if the tough year got to him. You have to wonder when you think of this clunker of a script getting through. One or two bon mots sure. But only the one or two. And that’s got to be an all-time low.
This is farce without force.
It’s watchable – just. But it’s hard to take anything from it. Beyond the knowledge that in 10 months or so he’ll beat it. And that he’s likely already moved on. And that you should too.