In 1920’s France, Wei Ling Soo is a hit amongst his hoards of adoring fans and his notoriety spreads far and wide. He’s a masterful magician who can make the impossible happen, right before our eyes! Actually, Wei Ling Soo is really only Stanley (played by Colin Firth), a veteran illusionist dressed as a Chinese Imperial Master, who stuns audiences with his amazing, well practised feats and tricks. One day, Stanley’s friend, fellow magician Howard Burkan (by Simon McBurney) tells him of a new sensation doing the rounds of the social set in France. She, Madam Sophie, claims she can read people accurately, tell fortunes, observe the spirit world and bring messages from those passed to people still on the side of the living. Stanley instantly dismisses any notion of her being authentic and is invited to France to check her out and prove she’s a fraud. Once in France, Stanley views Sophie (by Emma Stone) with complete suspicion, but slowly, as he gets to know her he starts to think perhaps he’s wrong after all … how could she possibly know the things she does about him and his life? He finds himself strangely drawn to her … but surely she’s a fake, isn’t she?
This movie is sweet, but not quite entertaining. The French scenery is divine and a wonderful backdrop to the story, so in parts it has its moments, but overall Colin Firth’s performance renders the piece a little unbalanced and tedious. I can only hope that Director Woody Allen instructed him to perform in this weirdly wooden and robotic fashion as I’ve never seen Colin Firth act like this in any other work. Emma Stone is good and it’s great to see Jackie Weaver here as one of Sophie’s “clients”, Mrs Grace Catledge. Others are okay and the story has nice twists, but overall is only average. I may have just missed the point, I guess.
Made in 2014. Directed by Woody Allen.