Woody Allen evokes a strong reaction from movie-goers—sometimes for the right reasons; sometimes, not. And I will admit, despite being a fan, his films can miss the mark. That usually occurs when he sacrifices story for agenda—or self indulgence. However, when he writes a compelling script and lets his love of filmmaking show, it’s captivating. This film is a perfect example of that.
Professionally, Stanley (Colin Firth) is an acclaimed magician and illusionist who travels the world performing to packed houses. Personally, he is a depressed, self-involved nihilist. When his best friend, Howard (Simon McBurney), approaches him with a problem, he is intrigued. It seems that a suspicious psychic, Sophie Baker (Emma Stone), has ingratiated herself with a wealthy American family in the south of France, and is attempting to bilk them with her 'gift.' Howard wants Stanley to discredit her, and Stanley is most certainly up to the task. It is only when Stanley meets the captivating Sophie that the challenge becomes much more than he had anticipated.
Just go see it. I can’t say enough. It’s simple and beautiful and brilliant. I can’t remember the last time I sat through a film not wanting it to end, and smiling the whole time. It’s a 9.