Woody Allen’s latest film sounds like a rehashing of what he’s been dutifully releasing year after year for the last four decades. Magic in the Moonlight has a basic Pygmalion theme and has a glamorous 1920s South of France setting, factors which Allen’s usual upscale and sophisticated (at least by 20th century standards) audience will find hard to resist. I haven’t seen the film and probably will wait until it’s available on Netflix streaming (if ever), so I’ll refer you to what sounds like a trenchant critique of it (see link at the end of this article).
Personally, I’m ambivalent about Woody Allen. It’s hard not to admire some of his films from the 70s and 80s, though even then they were on the verge of being anachronistic, with Allen so fond of quoting Sartre, Freud, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, a practice he has continued. By the 90s and 00s, it was hard to find much original in even his better efforts. The only differences seem to be that the scenes have shifted mostly from New York to Europe and, rather than starring in his own films, he’s mainly using stand-ins -in the latest case, Colin Firth.
If you consider Allen’s personal life and the recent accusations made against him, you probably would want to avoid his work altogether. I don’t take this stance, because, let’s face it, great art (and great deeds in other aspects of life) have often been created by highly flawed human beings. Additionally, how much do we really know about any of the celebrities and heroes out there, even those with the most pristine images?
My main complaint with Allen is that his work and point of view hasn’t really evolved over the decades. In fairness, though, even a mediocre Woody Allen film is wittier and more entertaining than the average Hollywood romantic comedy, though that’s not saying very much.
In the following article, Kate Arthur and Alison Willmore discuss Magic in the Moonlight, as well as their own views on separating artists’ personal lives from their work.