Magic in the Moonlight (PG-13)

Film

Romance

Time Out rating:

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Time Out says

Fri Jul 18

The more things change, the more Woody Allen stays the same: It’s a comfort that this singular artist’s worldview remains so staunchly his own—often archaically against fashion—and that nothing seems to halt his movie-a-year pace. (This, after a year in which he found widespread critical and commercial success with Blue Jasmine, and harshly refuted adopted daughter Dylan Farrow’s molestation charges.) The director’s latest—a lighthearted romance set in 1920s Germany and France—won’t do much to sway proponents or detractors from their own perspectives, though taken at face value, it’s one of Allen’s most charmingly conceived and performed efforts.

Our hero, Stanley (Colin Firth, amusingly pompous), is a popular stage magician and lifetime skeptic conscripted by a colleague to travel to a lush Côte d’Azur estate. His task is to debunk a self-proclaimed psychic named Sophie (Emma Stone, strong-willed and alluring), who appears to be bilking a rich old widow out of every cent. Yet try as Stanley might, he’s unable to uncover her trickery, and with each new “miracle” she performs, he falls deeper and deeper in love.

It’s a simple premise that Allen complicates with an illusionist’s expertise. If the essence of magic is a steady stream of pleasurable distraction until the mind-bending big reveal, then the sun-dappled French vistas—gorgeously photographed by cinematographer Darius Khondji—and a very able and attractive cast decked out in Jazz Age finery more than do the job. Firth and Stone’s head-butting exchanges may be the general focus, but there are plum supporting roles for Hamish Linklater as a ukulele-strumming suitor and Eileen Atkins as Stanley’s aunt, always ready with a wizened, world-weary observation.

None of this is to take away from Allen’s cleverly constructed script. It feels as if it could have been written in the heyday of Old Hollywood—a blithe lark that digs deep at the most unexpected times, as in a terrific scene in which agnostic Stanley dithers his way through a prayer. Allen’s never going to be Ernst Lubitsch, and there’s a bit of his latter-day laziness on display. (Few directors are as fond of one-and-done master shots that seem envisioned by a loafer longing for the five o’clock whistle.) Yet Magic still casts a lovely, lingering spell.

Follow Keith Uhlich on Twitter: @keithuhlich

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Release details

Rated:

PG-13

US release:

Fri Jul 25, 2014

Duration:

97 mins

Cast and crew

Director:

Woody Allen

Screenwriter:

Woody Allen

Cast:

Emma Stone, Colin Firth, Eileen Atkins, Hamish Linklater, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Simon McBurney

Movie Theaters showing Magic in the Moonlight

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Edwards Brea Stadium East 12

155 W. Birch St., Brea, 92821 Show map/details

  • Address:

    Edwards Brea Stadium East 12 155 W. Birch St.
    Brea
    92821

  • Venue phone:

    714-672-1000

  • Map

    1. Edwards Brea Stadium East 12
      • 155 W. Birch St.
        Brea
        92821
      • 714-672-1000
      • 33.9189,-117.901
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Edwards Westpark 8

3735 Alton Pkwy., Irvine, 92606 Show map/details

  • Address:

    Edwards Westpark 8 3735 Alton Pkwy.
    Irvine
    92606

  • Venue phone:

    949-622-8609

  • Map

    1. Edwards Westpark 8
      • 3735 Alton Pkwy.
        Irvine
        92606
      • 949-622-8609
      • 33.6824,-117.8148
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MGN Five Star Cinema

128 N. Maryland Ave., Glendale, 91206 Show map/details

  • Address:

    MGN Five Star Cinema 128 N. Maryland Ave.
    Glendale
    91206

  • Venue phone:

    888-501 0101

  • Map

    1. MGN Five Star Cinema
      • 128 N. Maryland Ave.
        Glendale
        91206
      • 888-501 0101
      • 34.1476,-118.2538
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  • Thu Oct 2:

    • 1:05pm
    • 3:15pm
    • 5:25pm
    • 7:35pm
    • 9:40pm

Regency Rancho Niguel

25471 Rancho Niguel Road, Laguna Niguel, 92677 Show map/details

  • Address:

    Regency Rancho Niguel 25471 Rancho Niguel Road
    Laguna Niguel
    92677

  • Venue phone:

    949-831-0446

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    1. Regency Rancho Niguel
      • 25471 Rancho Niguel Road
        Laguna Niguel
        92677
      • 949-831-0446
      • 33.5554,-117.6851
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UA Long Beach 6

6601 Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, 90803 Show map/details

  • Address:

    UA Long Beach 6 6601 Pacific Coast Highway
    Long Beach
    90803

  • Venue phone:

    562-777-3456

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    1. UA Long Beach 6
      • 6601 Pacific Coast Highway
        Long Beach
        90803
      • 562-777-3456
      • 33.7546,-118.1079
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