Director: Woody Allen

Cast: Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Eileen Atkins, Marcia Gay Harden, Hamish Linklater

Synopsis: In the 1920s, English magician and illusionist Stanley Crawford, who on stage masquerades as Chinese conjuror Wei Ling Soo, travels to the French Riviera where he attempts to expose the secrets of spirit medium Sophie Baker who is suspected of exploiting the wealthy Catledge family. Though he is initially certain she is a fraud, the more time Stanley spends with Sophie, the more he begins to believe she might be genuine.


In Berlin in 1928, magician and illusionist, Stanley Crawford (Colin Firth) is approached by his old friend and fellow illusionist, Howard Burkan (Simon McBurney) to come and help wealthy friends of his in the Côte d’Azur who have been bewitched by a young woman, Sophie Baker (Emma Stone) claiming to be a medium.

Stanley bids farewell to his fiancée, Olivia (Catherine McCormack) – also a sceptic – and sets off to expose a charlatan.

Once again Woody Allen gives us the pure pleasure of beautiful cinematography from Darius Khondji, a terrific soundtrack featuring Cole Porter, Ute Lemper, Kurt Weill, Bix Beiderbecke, Stravinsky and Beethoven and some laugh out loud dialogue from the hugely talented ensemble.

Like A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982) the major themes of love, fate, immortality and the spirit world are dealt with in an amusing way.

But it is Colin Firth’s Stanley that is the real joy to watch.  From arrogant, brusque, dry and cynical to confused, likeable, helpless and hilariously funny – he turns in a flawless performance.

Images courtesy of Warner Bros