The Film Fatales Review Magic in the Moonlight

The Film Fatales tell you whether there is magic in Woody Allen’s latest.

Magic in the Moonlight film poster © IMDB

Magic in the Moonlight film poster © IMDB

Magic in the Moonlight (2014)
Rated PG-13
Starring: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Simon McBurney, Marcia Gay Harden,
Jacki Weaver, Eileen Atkins, Hamish Linklater.
Written and directed by Woody Allen.

A romantic comedy about an Englishman brought in to help unmask a possible swindle. Personal and professional complications ensue. (IMDb)

Elizabeth: Anytime there is a flick starring Colin Firth (Pride & Prejudice, Bridget Jones’ Diary, Railway Man), it is probably a good bet that Nicole and I will be running, not walking, to see it. In Magic in the Moonlight, Firth’s Stanley Crawford, an illusionist with an attitude problem and over-blown ego, is all dapper in the best finery of the 1920s. Emma Stone (Easy A, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Help), as Sophie Baker, an American who portrays herself as a mystic, seems to be taking advantage of an American family in France. And, can you blame her since the lovesick son, Brice (Hamish Linklater, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Newsroom, Crazy Ones) has learned to play the ukulele (earplugs should be given out) while trying to win Sophie’s heart? I really got to like Sophie right off because she had the gift to roll her eyes and still look charming. Director Woody Allen brings these characters together in what I would call and light and breezy comedy.

Nicole: I was seriously born in the wrong era and on the wrong continent. I’m always drawn to period pieces, especially if they take place in Europe. It also doesn’t hurt when they’re starring Mr. Darcy himself…wink, wink. But, I digress. I agree; light and breezy comedy is the best way to sum up this film. Firth plays a masterful curmudgeon who often doesn’t realize his sarcasm, albeit it hilarious and on target, is sometimes tiresome and mean-spirited. It was a joy to watch Stone’s Sophie wear him down in an attempt to get him to let go of his philosophical trappings and accept that some things in life defy explanation.

Elizabeth: While I did like this movie, it seems that Woody Allen is fading from his movies. If I didn’t know that Allen wrote and directed Magic in the Moonlight, I would not have attached him to this film. Maybe it just means that his humor has mellowed a bit and maybe he wants to explore a new storyline. Maybe it is all about him growing and leaving the “Woody Allen of the last fifty years” behind. As I write this, I realize that this is what the movie is about – changing your long-held beliefs for something that might even make you happy. Sometimes my brilliance scares me.

Nicole: Oh, great and all-knowing guru, I agree in part; Allen’s work has been very different of late. I’m going to hazard a guess and say that’s because of his newfound love for the UK and Europe. Although I much preferred Midnight in Paris to this, there are some comparisons to be drawn – a fascination with the occult, questioning the unexplained, and a main character who has an epiphany through love.

Elizabeth: It was great to see my Colin doing comedy again and he is helped along with a terrific cast. His Aunt Vanessa, portrayed by Eileen Atkins (Doc Martin, Upstairs Downstairs, Cranford, Gosford Park), is a woman head of her time and her wardrobe could stand up to and surpass some of the styles out today. I must give Allen major kudos for making a visually beautiful movie.

Nicole: Ahem, he’s your Colin, eh? Fine, but then I get to claim the other Mr. Darcy (Matthew Macfadyen as “mine”; deal?) Oh, I loved Aunt Vanessa. Atkins, who is generally wonderful in everything, was so in tune with Firth in all their scenes. Their dialog was particularly Allen-esque, seeming very natural and improvised. And, yes, what a stunningly gorgeous film: I’ve always loved how Allen uses the natural surroundings and existing architecture for his sets – no fakery. What a joy it must be to work on one of his shoots.

Elizabeth: So, in conclusion, I think Magic in the Moonlight gets better a day or two after seeing it. When I got over that there was not enough NYC angst and dramatics for my taste, I realized that Allen sent us a little valentine.

The Film Fatales give Magic in the Moonlight:


The Film Fatales are two acid-tongued, sassy broads who rant and rave about the best and worst of modern and classic cinema. Elizabeth Cassidy is an artist, creativity coach for artists and writers, an award-winning blogger and the fifth Beatle. To know Elizabeth is to be slightly afraid of her. Avid blogger and smart-arse, Nicole Dauenhauer is an advertising copywriter by day and an aspiring fiction/non-fiction writer by night. She’s an incorrigible Anglophile whose inner voice speaks in a British accent and prefers her Earl Grey with milk and sugar – not lemon.


  1. Rose Darling says

    My husband Geoffrey and I saw the movie two days ago and we thoroughly enjoyed it and agree with your comments. My only ‘criticism’ is this Hollywood tendency of matching young women with aging, and sometimes downright old, leading men. Collin is gorgeous, yes, but he’s 53…she is 25. But the costumes and settings and light story were magical.
    (BTW) My fav Allen movie was Purple Rose of Cairo.

  2. nicole says

    Rose, I tend to agree. I’m not fond of May/December romances, mostly because we are rarely, if ever, treated to the role reversal of an older woman with a younger man. Allen is notorious for his pairings of this nature. That being said, if I were in Emma’s shoes, Firth would be very hard to resist. :)

  3. says

    So glad you guys liked it. I’ve been looking forward to this one as it seems right up my alley with the time period and the spiritual stuff. Yay! Light and breezy is just what I need these days!

  4. Kathy says

    Saw this the minute it came out and I agree with your review; light breezy story, drop dead gorgeeous film. The scenery, clothing (including beautiful jackets worn by Colin), automobiles, gardens, room furishings, etc. just exquisite! I could see it again just to lap up the beauty in every single scene. “April in Paris” was the better movie overall. Like Nicole, I was born too late and in the wrong country.