in the Moonlight (10/10)
Writer/director Woody Allen has done it again with a thoroughly
captivating romantic comedy with star turns by Emma Stone and Colin
Firth, who create bewitching chemistry.
plays a clairvoyant, Sophie Baker, with astonishing power. So
astonishing that magician Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney) convinces his
old friend, Stanley Crawford (Firth), whose persona is that of a Chinese
conjuror Wei Ling Soo, the most celebrated magician of his age, (the
1920s), to try to unmask Sophie as a fraud.
introduces himself to Sophie and her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) at the
Côte d'Azur mansion of the Catlidge family, where the family matriarch,
Grace (Jacki Weaver) is convinced that Sophie can get in contact with
her deceased husband. Grace’s son, Brice (Hamish Linklater) is deeply
infatuated with Sophie and constantly serenades her with his ukulele.
watched the film I thought that Stone looked more beautiful than ever
before, and the softness of her face made me wonder if she was shot
through the Doris Day filter. But there was a lot more to it than that.
Director of Photography Darius Khondji (who also worked with Woody on
Midnight in Paris and To Rome With Love) used old Cinemascope
lenses from the seventies shooting it on film with a special process to
lower the contrast and soften the images. Then in post-production they
made the images look like the “autochrome” appearance of the color film
in the early 20th Century.
Khondji, “Woody asked me to convey (Stone’s) beauty on film and I hope I
did. I felt she had a natural glow, this combination of the color of her
skin, hair, and eyes.”
Comments Linklater, “She is a gorgeous girl but with that lighting she
looked like she walked out of a fresco every single day.” I couldn’t say
it better. It's not often that you will see an actress filmed more lovingly.
locations, sets (Anne Seibel), and costumes (Sonia Grande) are stunning.
I’ve rarely seen a film that captured a period as perfectly as this.
Standing out is the red Alfa Romeo sports car that Stanley drives but
there are other extraordinary old cars in the movie that look as if they
just came off the showroom floor.
is Henry Higgins-like in his arrogant grouchiness and the play between
him and the seemingly ingenuous Sophie sparkles. The only thing that I
found troubling was the May-December differences in their ages.
laugh out loud script seems to be deeply influenced by George Bernard
Shaw’s Pygmalion, so much so that near the end of the film the song
“I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face” (from Lerner & Lowe’s musical
adaptation, My Fair Lady, that used a lot of GBS’s dialogue as
lyrics) wafted through my mind as Stanley was speaking.
see movies more than once, but I’d love to sit through this one again.