By Edward Davis | The Playlist July 10, 2014 at 3:22PM
Okay , we still know nothing about Woody Allen’s next movie that is currently shooting in Rhode Island and Providence starring Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone (some have speculated it’s a college professor/student relationship story). Though there’s word today that Parker Posey is also part of the cast. But otherwise, details are… zilch.
So in the meantime, let’s move over to Allen’s current movie, “Magic In The Moonlight.” It’s a romantic comedy about an Englishman brought in to help unmask a charlatan spiritualist, and personal and professional complications ensue when the man falls for the spirited young swindler. Colin Firth stars as the Englishman and Emma Stone plays the unlikely charlatan. The movie also stars Hamish Linklater, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Erica Leerhsen, Eileen Atkins, Simon McBurney, Antonia Clarke and Jeremy Shamos.
Sony Pictures Classics have been unveiling lots of elements from the film including a new long form synopsis, while a press kit reveals a little bit of Allen’s interest in magic as well. “At the time much was made of it,” Allen said of the period setting. “Very renowned people like Arthur Conan Doyle [creator of Sherlock Holmes] took it very seriously. There were all kinds of incidents like spirit photographs that people were wondering about. Séances were very common. The greatest magician of that era, Harry Houdini, attended many séances, debunking every clairvoyant he encountered. Interestingly, Houdini wasn’t motivated by a desire to expose con artists, but by his sincere longing to discover that communicating with the dead was possible. Finding so much fraud was a disappointment to him, but at the time of his death, he still held out hope for an afterlife.”
Here’s the long form synop:
- Set in the 1920s on the opulent Riviera in the south of France, Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight is a romantic comedy about a master magician (Colin Firth) trying to expose a psychic medium (Emma Stone) as a fake.
Chinese conjuror Wei Ling Soo is the most celebrated magician of his age, but few know that he is the stage persona of Stanley Crawford (Firth), a grouchy and arrogant Englishman with a sky-high opinion of himself and an aversion to phony spiritualists’ claims that they can perform real magic. Persuaded by his life-long friend, Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney), Stanley goes on a mission to the Côte d’Azur mansion of the Catledge family: mother Grace (Jacki Weaver), son Brice (Hamish Linklater), and daughter Caroline (Erica Leerhsen). He presents himself as a business man named Stanley Taplinger in order to debunk the alluring young clairvoyant Sophie Baker (Stone) who is staying there with her mother (Marcia Gay Harden). Sophie arrived at the Catledge villa at the invitation of Grace, who is convinced that Sophie can help her contact her late husband, and once there, attracted the attention of Brice, who has fallen for her head over heels.
From his very first meeting with Sophie, Stanley dismisses her as an insignificant pip-squeak who he can unmask in no time, scoffing at the family’s gullibility. To his great surprise and discomfort, however, Sophie accomplishes numerous feats of mind-reading and other supernatural deeds that defy all rational explanation, leaving him dumbfounded. Before long, Stanley confesses to his beloved Aunt Vanessa (Eileen Atkins) that he has begun to wonder whether Sophie’s powers could actually be real. If they were to be true, Stanley realizes that anything might be possible, even good, and his entire belief system would come crashing down.
What follows is a series of events that are magical in every sense of the word and send the characters reeling. In the end, the biggest trick Magic in the Moonlight plays is the one that fools us all.
"Magic In the Moonlight" opens in limited release in the U.S. on July 25th. Over 20 new photos from the film below.