It’s too simple to say Woody Allen’s “Magic in the Moonlight” is a romantic comedy. It’s so beautifully written, with undertones of philosophy, religion and science, that “MM” is that rare other thing that scores on many levels. It’s also very funny.
Last night stars Colin Firth and Emma Stone were joined at the swanky A list premiere (at the Paris Theater, followed by dinner at Harlow) by Katie Couric and husband John Dolner, French actress Audrey Tatou, “Good Wife” star and Emmy nominee Christine Baranski, actress Dana Delany, “Moneyball” director Bennett Miller, hot-as-a-pistol actor Dane DeHaan, Stone’s boyfriend Andrew “Spider Man” Garfield, plus Oliver Stone, Regis and Joy Philbin, long time Woody pal John Doumanian, former Police Commish Ray Kelly, his wife Veronica, and their son Greg (of Fox 5 fame here), Vogue’s Anna Wintour in sunglasses, and a wide-smiling Josh Lucas, who left the party with a pair of long legged Danish models ages 18 and 19. (They’re just friends. Really.)
Andrew Garfield, by the way, is sporting a big beard for Martin Scorsese’s “Silence.” He’s going to play a priest, but we joked that he looked more rabbi. It’s all good!
Woody and wife Soon Yi hit the premiere screening, and stayed a few minutes at the Harlow party. But Woody is in the middle of shooting a new movie in Providence, Rhode Island.
“MM” opens July 25th. It’s set in 1928, mostly around Nice and Provence in the south of France. Firth is a famous magician and de-bunker of fake psychics (very popular around that time). Stone is an American giving seances and communicating with the “other world” (where, Firth notes, he’s thought of opening a restaurant– built in audience).
Firth’s pal, played by the not-seen-enough-in-American-films Simon McBurney, convinces Firth’s Stanley to help him unmask Stone’s Sophie as a fraud. They all head to Provence, where Sophie is swindling the wealthy. By coincidence, Stanley’s wealthy aunt, played by a magnificent Eileen Atkins, lives nearby.
There are some other well known names in the mix: Hamish Linklater is the ukelele playing playboy son of Jacki Weaver who falls for Sophie; Marcia Gay Harden is her ambitious mother. Jeremy Shamos is the on-scene shrink.
Woody often features magic and magicians in his films. A well known theme is that of mortality, the existence of God, and what is the meaning of life. All of this is present in “MM” but I think on a deeper level, and with funnier consequences. There’s a major surprise “reveal” or plot twist that must not be given away. There’s also a scene between Firth and Atkins that should be used for awards consideration. It’s a classic, and beautifully played.
After the masterpiece like “Blue Jasmine,” this film is a romp. Woody usually mixes it up since he releases a film per year. You get the Big Deal, then the smaller release. Ordinarily I’d say “MM” is a smaller Allen film, like “A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy.” That may have been the intention. But “Magic in the Moonlight” has more going on than meets the eye– exactly as real magic does. In the end, it’s a must not miss addition to the stunning Allen canon.