Magic in the Moonlight: A little gross, and a little icky | Sunday Observer

Magic in the Moonlight: A little gross, and a little icky

21 March, 2021

Plot Summary:

In 1928, small time magician Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney) seeks out the successful magician Wei Ling Soo, a.k.a.

Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth), in Berlin, Germany. They have been friends since childhood and Howard invites Stanley to travel to the south of France to expose American clairvoyant Sophie Baker (Emma Stone), who has convinced the matriarch of the wealthy Catledge family and her son Brice Catledge (Hamish Linklater) that she is legitimate.

Brice has proposed to her to get married. Englishman Stanley is an arrogant, rational, and bitter man, and he leaves his fiancée Olivia (Catherine McCormack) in England and travels to France to visit his Aunt Vanessa (Dame Eileen Atkins) and to meet Sophie and disclose her swindle.

When Stanley meets Sophie, he is spellbound by her smile and big eyes. Stanley also learns that Sophie comes from a very poor family and now has the chance to marry a millionaire. He uses Howard to help him to find her trick, but soon he is convinced that Sophie is a real medium, shaking up his principles of rationality and belief. Further, he falls in love with her. He decides to call a press conference to tell the truth about her. But what is the truth?


Magic in the Moonlight is a 2014 romantic comedy film written and directed by Woody Allen. It is Allen’s 44th film. The film stars Emma Stone, Colin Firth, Hamish Linklater, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Erica Leerhsen, Eileen Atkins, and Simon McBurney. Set in the 1920s on the French Riviera, the film was released on July 25, 2014, by Sony Pictures Classics. Magic in the Moonlight received a generally mixed reception. Critics praised the performances of Firth and Stone, but found its writing formulaic.

Critical reception

Magic in the Moonlight received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 51%, based on 183 reviews, with an average rating of 5.89/10. The site’s consensus states: “While far from a failure, Magic in the Moonlight is too slight to stand with Woody Allen’s finest work.” Review aggregator Metacritic assigns the film a score of 54 out of 100, based on 40 critics, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.

Rex Reed, writing for The New York Observer, gave the film a largely positive review, calling it “a masterstroke of enchantment” and praising Colin Firth’s acting. Jordan Hoffman of also enjoyed the film, stating, “This picture isn’t as showy or obvious as one of his (many) masterpieces, but it is quite good and deserves your time and respect.” In The New Yorker, David Denby agreed that Colin Firth “carries [the film] through.” In The Wall Street Journal, Joe Morgenstern complimented Emma Stone and concluded, “Think of it as a 97-minute séance that draws you in, spins you around, subverts your suppositions, levitates your spirits and leaves you giddy with delight”.

However, in Vanity Fair, Richard Lawson criticised Emma Stone’s acting, arguing, “her line delivery is too modern to really work convincingly in the period, and like many other nonetheless talented actors, she has trouble with Allen’s stilted, formal cadence.” He added that the age gap between Stone and Firth was “a little gross” and “icky”. Alan Scherstuhl of the Village Voice disliked the film, criticizing its familiarity from Allen’s previous work and believing the writing was uninspired. Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the movie a “B-” grade (from A+ to F), remarking that it was funny and “pleasant” but also forgettable. Salon’s Andrew O’Hehir felt that the characters were not drawn out enough because of poor writing. The New York Times’ A. O. Scott wrote: “. Allen has had his ups and downs over the years. Rarely, though, has he put a story on screen that manifests so little energy, so little curiosity about its own ideas and situations.”

In 2016, film critics Robbie Collin and Tim Robey ranked it as one of the worst movies by Woody Allen.