Sunday, March 15, 2015
Magic in the Moonlight and the Young Girl
In Magic in the Moonlight, Woody Allen is at his subtle best--bittersweet, romantic, filled with unfulfillable longing that is then fulfilled at the last moment, I won't tell you exactly how. But I saw as I watched--admiring the music, the costumes, the wind-blown pastoral scenes, the elegant Firth and the wide-eyed Stone--a strong indictment of himself as a pedophile. The girlishly slim Stone, made to look considerably younger than her twenty-six years, falls in love with the fatherly, distinguished fifty-four year old Colin Firth. She's made to look flat-chested, 1920s-style; he's pedantic and repressed, but hoping to be rescued. It's Lolita-ish, and he's looking for the kind of salvation Oscar Wilde depicts in The Canterville Ghost, in which a spirit is doomed, like Hamlet's father, to pace around like the Wandering Jew or the Flying Dutchman or any number of guilty types until, in this case, a "golden girl" makes a mysterious sacrifice, freeing the ghost from Purgatory. That does seem to be the sort of tale we're getting here from Allen. A sensible man, lonely in life but successful as a magician, investigates a supposed case of spiritualism, and teeters on the brink of religious belief, actually sitting down to pray when his beloved aunt is being operated on after a car accident. In the middle of his effort to pray he has an epiphany--that religion is nonsense, and that somehow that spiritualist--remember, she's the Emma Stone character--is fooling him. And he figures out how she's doing it, and whom to blame, and then he feels much better, only needing the Emma Stone character--with her air of the twelve-year-old, right down to eating three course meals chased by muffins--to scoop him up and love him. Fade out. Everyone who didn't believe Dylan Farrow ought to perceive the confession in this film. Woody Allen is our modern day Lewis Carroll, and like Carroll, he's apparently gotten away with it.