Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

You're Not Fooling Anyone, Woody; Colin Firth Plays a Snooty Brit and Emma Stone Is the Love-Interest Half His Age -- Sound familiar?Film of the Week

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

You're Not Fooling Anyone, Woody; Colin Firth Plays a Snooty Brit and Emma Stone Is the Love-Interest Half His Age -- Sound familiar?Film of the Week

Article excerpt

Byline: MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT Cert 12A, 97 mins David Sexton

WOODY Allen has always hoped for a bit of magic, a scattering of stardust. Before he became a comedian he aspired to be a conjuror, which in a different way he duly became. Magic in the Moonlight, his 47th film, his eighth set in Europe in recent years, once again teases that there may be more to life than the bare facts.

At a show in Berlin in 1928, a stagey Chinaman, Wei Ling Soo, pulls off some stunts, making an elephant disappear, transporting himself mysteriously across the stage. Backstage, he reveals himself to be an extraordinarily bad-tempered Englishman, Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth), berating his assistants, scoffing that "autographs are for mental defectives".

Then a pal, fellow conjuror Howard (Simon McBurney, a very mannered, irritating performance), turns up and persuades Stanley to go to the Cote D'Azur with him, to help expose a phoney medium (there is no other kind). Pretty chancer Sophie Baker (Emma Stone) is taking a rich American family for a ride, tricking the widowed mother ( Jacki Weaver) into believing she can communicate with her late husband while seducing the air-headed son (Hamish Linklater).

Off they go, to an incredibly lavish and glamourised vision of the Riviera, beautifully filmed by cinematographer Darius Khondji. Stanley remains fabulously snotty, jeering that the unseen world would be a good place to open a restaurant. But Sophie, all flashing eyes and flaming hair, has a mysterious allure -- and she tells Stanley things about himself she couldn't possibly know. He remains obdurate -- "The woman is a charlatan! As depressing as the facts of existence are, they are the facts." But then he takes her out for the day (to "Provence") to meet charming old Aunt Vanessa (stately Eileen Atkins).

Sophie pulls the same stunt with her and Stanley is suddenly convinced. "Sophie, is there really a spirit world? Where have you been all my life? You are proof that there's more!" he exclaims.

Caught out in a storm, they shelter in the grand Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur, built in 1887 to the designs of Gustave Eiffel, and see the Moon and stars together, reprising a scene between Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Manhattan. …

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