Stanely Crawford is one of the most celebrated magicians in the world, though you wouldn't know it by his arrogant demeanor and overall cynicism and disgust of spiritualists. One night, after his latest performance as his stage persona, the Chinese conjuror Wei Ling Soo, he is approached by his friend Howard, a fellow magician, who convinces Stanley to accompany him to the Cote d'Azur mansion, where a clairvoyant has convinced the wealthy owners she can speak with the dead. With his sky-high opinion of himself in tow, Stanley sets out to expose Sophia, the clairvoyant, as a fraud, only to slowly fall in love with her. Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight is aided by a witty script and evocations about science vs spirituality but unfortunately it fails at delivering a truly believable romance. Colin Firth's performance is the standout of the film, a deeply cynical character whose high regard of himself is only matched by his use of sarcasm. He is an incredibly arrogant man that is highly enjoyable to watch, intent on only believing what is rooted in fact. What is interesting about Magic in the Moonlight is how it thematically starts off as a film pondering the rhyme and reason of our existence, commenting on the idea of faith vs. fact, only to evolve into philosophical debate of optimism vs. pessimism. Allen confronts the idea of a world after the death with grace, almost suggesting that the difference between those that believe in a higher power are the optimists and those that don't are the pessimists. While these ideals make the film a worthy piece of Woody Allen's film canon, Magic in the Moonlight ultimately fails because of its love story. Everything about Stanley and Sophia's romance felt forced to me, never feeling that their budding romance was organic in the story. Both Firth and Stone give solid performances but I had trouble simply believing Sophia's character could fall in love with Stanley, given their drastic difference in overall disposition. There whole relationship in the film feels like a silly flirtation but nothing more, making the film's final moments feel too abrupt. In the end, Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight is full of sharp dialogue, which makes it an entertaining ride, even if the central relationship between Sophia and Stanley ends up feeling force fed to the viewer.
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