Film Review: Magic in the Moonlight

Magic in the Moonlight

With Magic in the Moonlight, writer-director Woody Allen delivers yet another satisfying slice of escapism.

Stanley is a magician well-known for unveiling fraudulent mystics. He agrees to travel to the south of France to meet Sophie, a young spiritualist whose hosts are convinced of her supernatural powers. Although Stanley sets out to reveal her deception, he finds her persuasive…

Magic in the Moonlight is a 1920s-set romantic comedy which deals with the concept of spiritualism in an amusing manner. The comedy in the film is light; with laughs being generated at an amble. Nevertheless, Magic in the Moonlight is entertaining enough not to require constant laughs.

Allen’s film is well paced, with the opening sequence giving a great introduction to one of the protagonists. Magic in the Moonlight also gives a decent build up to the other protagonist, Sophie; allowing the audience to form an opinion before she appears on screen. Supporting characters are drawn succinctly enough to make them distinctive without spending time on strands that lead nowhere.

Magic in the Moonlight‘s narrative follows a familiar tread in terms of the way the story unfolds. At one point it seems as if the story will hit its peak prematurely, yet the film still has places to go. Like so many other Woody Allen films, Magic in the Moonlight has something to say amongst the amusement and charm. Allen expounds on the nature of magic in a way not dissimilar to the thematic and overt use of nostalgia in Midnight in Paris.

Colin Firth plays the type of role that he is often identified with. In implicitly referencing one of his best-known characters, it seems likely that Stanley was written with Firth in mind. Emma Stone is as amiable as ever as Sophie, whilst Eileen Aitkins is good as Aunt Vanessa.

Being such a prolific filmmaker, this will not rank in the top tier of Woody Allen films. That is not to say that Magic in the Moonlight is not a good film (for it is most entertaining), but just that Allen’s best films are marvellous.

To The Wonder Competition

To The WonderWin a DVD bundle to celebrate the release of Terence Malick’s To The Wonder in cinemas this Friday, 22nd February 2013.

To The Wonder is the latest acclaimed film from Terrence Malick, the legendary director of The Tree of Life, Badlands and Days Of Heaven. The film is centred on Neil (Ben Affleck, Argo), a man who is torn between two loves: Marina (Olga Kurylenko, Quantum of Solace), the European woman who comes to United States to be with him, and Jane (Rachel McAdams, Midnight in Paris), the old flame he reconnects with from his hometown. Neil’s doubts about his life and loves are reflected in the crisis of faith experienced by Father Quintana (Javier Bardem, Skyfall), who only sees pain and the loss of hope in the world.

In To The Wonder, Malick explores how love and its many phases and seasons – passion, sympathy, obligation, sorrow, indecision – can transform, destroy, and reinvent lives.

To win a DVD goodie bag courtesy of Studio Canal including Take This Waltz, Searching for Sugar Man and Blue Valentine answer the following question:

Which film did To The Wonder star Ben Affleck recently direct?

1) Fargo

2) Argo

3) Cargo

To enter, send an email to with the answer, your name and full postal address by 12th March 2013. Please put ‘To The Wonder’ as the subject title.

Terms and Conditions

1. Open to UK residents only.

2. Competition closes at 23.59 on 12th March 2013. Entries received after this time will not be counted.

3. Winners will be selected at random. Successful entrants will be contacted via email by 22nd March 2013. If you do not here from I Heart The Talkies by this time, please assume you have not been successful.

Film Review: Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s latest effort is a magical piece of filmmaking. Midnight in Paris could also be an advertisement from the French Tourism Board, so beguiling is the city.

On a trip to Paris with his fiancé and her parents, writer Gil cannot get enough the city. Gil longs to walk through Paris in the rain, and laments that he did not live in the city when he was a young writer. However, Gil’s fiancé Inez prefers to spend time with her friends Paul and Carol. When Gil wanders off for a midnight stroll, he finds the ultimate source of inspiration for his writing…

Midnight in Paris is a lovingly-crafted ode to both Paris and nostalgia. The film has the hallmarks of a Woody Allen film on a broad level. Gil is less nervy than most of the director’s protagonists. Midnight in Paris does not feature the incessant wit of some of Allen’s earlier films. Notwithstanding, the film has the wonderful charm of some of Allen’s best features. Moreover, Midnight in Paris paints such a beautiful picture.

The film explores ideas of fantasy within a set context. The sense of whimsy in the film is gratifying. It helps that the suspension of disbelief is brief. Not much time is wasted on questioning the more marvellous elements of proceedings. Instead, Gil is bewitched by the world he enters, much like the audience. Midnight in Paris evokes a similar style of fantasy to The Purple Rose of Cairo. Viewers share the protagonist’s awe as he enters a different world, one that is constructed to be as fascinating to the audience as it is to Gil.

Characters are finely constructed in Midnight in Paris. There are many characters with smaller roles, but each of these is succinctly developed and come across as realistic. Although the main characters are quite wealthy, the archetypes should be both recognisable and relatable to most.

Owen Wilson offers a decent performance as Gil. Wilson makes it easy to share the characters enthusiasm. Rachel McAdams is well cast as Inez, while Marion Cottillard is alluring as Adriana. Elsewhere, Michael Sheen is terrific as Paul and Alison Pill, Corey Stoll and Kathy Bates are great in their respective roles.

With its sumptuous imagery and beautiful soundtrack, Midnight in Paris functions as a fairy tale.  The film pontificates on the importance of nostalgia, giving the sensation adequate care and consideration, but concluding perfectly.

Midnight in Paris Trailer

British cinemagoers finally get to see Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris when it opens on 7th October 2011. I’ve heard good things about this film, so I am really looking forward to it. I really enjoyed last year’s Whatever Works, so this should be factored in when you appraise the worth of my opinion. Manhattan Murder Mystery is probably my favourite of Allen’s films, so also factor this in. Midnight in Paris stars Owen Wilson, Marion Cotillard and Rachel McAdams.