Woody Allen has long had a fascination with magic and magicians. His latest film, Magic in the Moonlight, set in the 1920s on the opulent Riviera in the south of France, is a romantic comedy about a master magician (Colin Firth) trying to expose a psychic medium (Emma Stone) as a fake and continues with that theme.
Stand-out crafts in the film include Darius Khondji behind the camera. Khondji has collaborated with Allen on Anything Else, Midnight in Paris and To Rome With Love. Many will also remember his outstanding work on Jean-Pierre Jeunet‘s Delicatessen and The City of Lost Children.
From the first scene of Firth’s character in a full Chinese conjurer costume, to a magnificent wide shot of an evening ball, Khondji makes the camera work appear effortless, with masterful lighting aided by gaffer Thierry Baucheron.
The ball sequence is a perfect introduction to the costume design work of Sonia Grande – continuing her skillful run with Allen, including Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris, Grande is spot on with every turn. Both in consistency and working with bright silks, she paints the actors with all the amazing fabrics of the 1920s. Her selection for Stone’s Sophie is particularly fetching and lights up the screen.
In many ways, the work of Allen’s art direction team, headed by Anne Seibel, who also worked with him on Midnight in Paris, is less in the wide and long shots and more in the tiniest of details. The team’s attention to detail was readily apparent in one scene where Stanley (Firth) is in the sitting room of his Aunt Vanessa (played by Eileen Atkins). The set decoration here was of particular distinction.
Editor Alisa Lepselter, in her 16th collaboration with Allen, continues to shine and makes the sequencing seem both light and moving. The film clocks in at a scant 98 minutes and no scene feels without purpose.
Magic in the Moonlight is being distributed by Sony Pictures Classics and will be released in the U.S. July 25.