Category Archive for: ‘Michael Ferguson’

Magic in the Moonlight — Film Review

Magic in the Moonlight

Directed by Woody Allen

I spent most of this movie wondering why it was made.   It is not a movie about characters and plot and story line so much as it is a movie about contentious grappling with big philosophical issues.  Does God exist?  Is there an afterlife?  Is there a “spiritual” realm apart from the world we see and experience, and do some people have special access to it?  How much faith should we put in science and rationality?  Do we need our illusions to maintain our humanity?  A rather esoteric constellation of topics for a mainstream movie.  The characters are rather simplified and cartoonish.  The plot is contrived and manipulative.  Yet the film is so well made, so well acted, and there are enough surprises that you are prevented from being bored to death with these tiresome philosophical arguments.

Woody Allen seems to like Europe, the 1920s, Dixieland jazz, and the well off and educated.  There are allusions to books and writers like Nietzsche, Shakespeare, Dickens, Freud, etc.  You have to have gone to college and studied liberal arts to watch this movie.  The characters have some intriguing qualities, but he is not interested enough in them to develop them or their relationships in any depth or complexity.   The girl, Sophie, (Emma Stone) is beautiful, but he seems hostile toward her.  She starts out attractive and appealing, but then morphs into a deceitful, conniving, low class, criminal.  He can’t seem to make up his mind whether to let a romance develop between her and Stanley (Colin Firth).  Finally, with her exposure as a fraud, the romance angle is repudiated once and for all, but then turns around yet again as the curtain is coming down in a very unconvincing reappearance for a happy ever after ending with Stanley.  It reflects the confused, indecisive character of this whole film.  There is some humor that works.  It works to some extent on the level of light entertainment, but the simplified, distorted characters lack the substance to give weight to the serious issues that the film wants to be preoccupied with.  I just didn’t get the “message” that this film was trying to get across, but it did seem to be trying to get some kind of a message out.  Some people in the theater applauded at the end, but not me.