A man, who is a magician for a living, falls under the spell of a young girl while trying to debunk her claims of being a psychic medium.
Review (with Spoilers)
Though not a huge fan of Woody Allen’s classic films, such as Annie Hall, I do find myself interested in his more modern films. For while I utterly refuse to ever watch Blue Jasmine ever again in this life, everything else he has done since Vicky Christina Barcelona I have quite enjoyed. As for whether this film makes it seem like Blue Jasmine was the first of many terrible movies, or perhaps it was an exception, look below.
Characters & Story
A charming young woman named Sophie (Emma Stone) has found herself capturing the attention of a multimillionaire family of which the matriarch Grace (Jacki Weaver) loves the fact she allows her to talk to her dead husband, and her son Brice (Hamish Linklater) loves her due to her beauty, and also her psychic talents. However, with the heir to the family fortune in love with a possible charlatan, Brice’s younger siblings George (Jeremy Shamos) and Caroline (Erica Leerhsen) originally hire a magician named Howard (Simon McBurney) to figure out her tricks. But when he is unable to do so Howard brings in Stanley (Colin Firth), one of the most talented magicians in Europe, to try to crack what is this girl’s secret. Leading the pessimistic atheist on a journey with this young lady in which he tries his best to figure out what, besides her charm, is the magic she uses to put one over on everyone, including him.
Throughout the film, Colin Firth’s British humor is on full display and while it may not make you roar with laughter, I will guarantee you will chuckle throughout. Also, him being paired with Emma Stone made for a cute pairing which reminded me of Peter Sarsgaard and Carey Mulligan in An Education mixed with Nicholas Cage and Alison Lohman in Matchstick Men. If just because they play off each other so well that while the apparent age difference makes them getting close sort of uncomfortable, you grow to get used to it as we see the effect they have on each other. Sophie helps Stanley loosen up and become more of an optimist, and in return Stanley, albeit in a mean spirited way, gives Sophie advice on how to improve herself.
And as for the general story, while certainly not at the top of Allen’s feature films, it is good enough. Watching Stanley study Sophie, as she slowly but surely figures him out, makes for an entertaining game between the two. Then add in Stanley’s Aunt Vanessa (Eileen Atkins) who is comical, Brice’s overwhelming affections for Sophie, and then Grace’s questions for her dead husband, and you get a decent film to kill some time with.
But, I must say, after the climax of the film it does feel like it drags its feet until it finally ends. If just because the movie shifts from Stanley trying to expose Sophie into him slowly falling in love with her. Something which I didn’t like, if just because Stanley already had a fiancé in Olivia (Catherine McCormack) and the justification for him wanting to leave a rational choice like Olivia, who we see gets him and accepts his attitude, to him going for Sophie seems, at the heart of it all, to be because Sophie is mysterious. Though her being younger feels like the top reason for him jumping ship without an understandable reason.
Overall: TV Viewing
Truly, the first half of the film in which Stanley is deeply committed to exposing Sophie are the best parts of the movie. However, once his feelings and judgment subside due to his affections, the movie loses its ability to stay interesting and then it drags its feet on those two possibly ending up together. Add in a really rushed ending and the film quickly topples and becomes well deserving of a “TV Viewing” label.