Set in the 1920s on the French Riviera (wait, why isn’t this at Cannes again??), Woody Allen’s 5,0000th film (ok, less), “Magic In The Moonlight,” is a romantic comedy about an Englishman brought in to help unmask a possible swindle. And, of course, personal and professional complications ensue. That’s all we’ve known for several months, but new plot details have emerged along with two new photos from the film.
Colin Firth stars as the Englishman and Emma Stone plays an unlikely charlatan. The movie also stars Hamish Linklater (Miranda July’s “The Future”), Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, Erica Leerhsen, Eileen Atkins, Simon McBurney, Antonia Clarke and Jeremy Shamos. It’s perhaps not as star-studded as you’re used to from a Woody Allen film but when you’ve got Emma Stone and Colin Firth in the leads, that’s obviously more than enough.
If you’ve seen the PBS documentary on Woody Allen (or hell, read closely about him at all), you know he has a well-known “drawer” of ideas—literally sometimes just scraps of paper, each with a one-sentence idea—that he’s amassed over the years. When stuck for a movie-concept, the über-prolific writer sometimes just opens the drawer, grabs a random scrap of paper and thinks, “OK, yeah, this will be my next movie,” and then goes to town on his typewriter (no, really).
And so, “Magic In the Moonlight” is one of those ideas. According to a recent issue of Entertainment Weekly, Allen had kicked around the idea of a rom com about an Englishman who sets out to expose a phony mystic, only to end up falling for her for a long time.
“I had it on a piece of notepaper in my drawer for ages,” Allen told the magazine. “I knew it was a good plot, but I kept seeing it as a contemporary thing and something about that just didn’t smell right to me. Then when it occurred to me it could be set in the south of France in the 1920s, all of a sudden it just felt good.”
Harden plays Stone’s mother and scheming co-conspirator, and convincing her to appear in a Woody Allen movie in the South of France wasn’t difficult. “It was a no-brainer,” she says. “Working with Woody has been on my bucket list for years, and there’s nothing I love more than travel.” Allen is practically a travel pro; ‘Magic’ is his eighth film shot overseas in the past decade. “By sheer accident, because I was getting European financing,” he says, “I’ve wound up being a foreign filmmaker.”