Review / ‘Magic In The Moonlight’ (PG) *** and a half

magic-moonlightWOODY Allen’s latest film is a whimsical confection that Noël Coward might have recognised as reflecting his style – the upper classes at play, romance confronted with seemingly-insurmountable obstacles, witty dialogue, an exotic location on the French Riviera and reprising popular musical hits of its time (1928).

And some lovely cars of the period, particularly a cherry-red, two-seater, drop-top Alfa simply to die for.

Stage illusionist Howard (Simon McBurney) implores his life-long friend and superior at that craft Stanley (Colin Firth) to apply his skills to prove that Sophie (Emma Stone) is a charlatan who rips off wealthy women by claiming to be able to communicate with late husbands.

Screen-Shot-2014-07-17-at-7.36.59-AMHoward is concerned about rich widow Grace whose gawky son (Hamish Linklater) is besotted with Sophie whom he serenades on his ukulele and singing mostly off key.

Stanley’s favourite aunt Vanessa (Eileen Atkins) lives nearby. Casting her and Jacki Weaver as Grace gives the film an admirable geriatric polish.

Allen has written Stanley as not overburdened by charm, declaiming dialogue that makes him not Firth’s most easily-assimilable performance. The screenplay contains occasional fallibilities especially in the development of Stanley and Sophie’s relationship. Its notes of “Private Lives” and “Blithe Spirit” suggest Woody Allen paying his respects to Coward, today’s master to yesterday’s.

At Dendy, Palace Electric, Capitol 6 and Limelight

 

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