First Hit: Lighthearted philosophical romp through Woody Allen’s belief structure around magic, God and science.
Stanley (Colin Firth) is a magician named Wei Ling Soo. He’s famous and he’s good. He also has a job of invalidating and unmasking people who claim to be spiritualist, people that can speak to the dead and denote a person’s past.
His best friend, and fellow magician, Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney) comes to him with a proposition to unmask a young beautiful woman who claims to be clairvoyant. Sophie (Emma Stone) comes from a working class family and because of her abilities has gotten some wealthy people supporting her and her abilities by leading séances.
As the story unfolds, Stanley starts to believe until he sees the fallacy of what is happening to him. The scenery of this film is great. I loved the cars used to represent the 1920’s and the costumes were really wonderful. Stylistically this film is really good, but Allenistic dialogue just seemed to be pressed at times although the last ½ hour was a lot more interesting and engaging.
Firth is excellent as the sarcastic arrogant English magician. However his rudeness actually bothered me from time to time – probably the intended result. McBurney was good as the conniving jealous friend. Stone was sweet as Sophie but she wasn’t quite believable as a psychic. I did think that this pairing didn’t work well because of the age differences between the two. Allen both wrote and directed this film and as expected we get Woody’s version of the world and here it was a little overhanded.
Overall: Enjoyable and easy to watch, however not sure if the intellectual challenges Allen wanted were really there.