More Allen Magic by Richard Jones

A look at Magic In The Moonlight (PG)

MMIT’S 1928 and British stage magician Stanley Crawford leaves his Berlin and London appearances behind him to travel to the south of France.
Crawford (Colin Firth) has been invited by his friend and fellow illusionist Howard (Simon McBurney) to help solve a mystery.
It turns out that Howard is keen to debunk a young female medium who is holding a rich American family on the French Riviera in her thrall.
Sophie Baker (Emma Stone) has convinced the family, widow and matriarch Mrs. Cartledge (Jacki Weaver) and son Brice (Hamish Linklater), that she can make contact with the dead.
The family’s dearly departed, particularly.
Now Howard is somewhat dismissive of Stanley – who appears on stage as a Chinaman named Wei Ling-Soo – and describes his fellow magician as “having all the charm of a typhus epidemic.”
Little did he realize that Stanley, who left his fiancĂ©e behind super confident he’d easily expose yet another charlatan, might fall for Sophie.
No easy task as the hammy, young spiritualist is accompanied by her assertive mother (Marcia Gay Harden) and the Cartledge family heir Brice has also been smitten by Sophie.
Director Woody Allen who has helmed 44 films including last year’s stunner Blue Jasmine, has Stanley at first convinced that science will triumph over fantasy yet more and more the self-doubts creep in.
“It’s all phoney,” the Englishman declares. How then can Sophie display knowledge which neither he nor Howard can explain.
After all, the master magician had come to France to expose a fraud with the use of his rational thought.
Events start to really perplex him, none more so than his feelings about Sophie.
A lot of Allen’s scenes, set in seaside locations, are exquisite thanks to the cinematography of Darius Khondji.
And this time Woody stays behind the camera and there’s not even a surrogate Allen character anywhere to be seen.
Period music, which the director loves, forms the soundtrack to the movie.

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