Story

Magic in the Moonlight is a romantic comedy directed by Woody Allen, set in the 1920s on the French Riviera. The movie is about an arrogant and cynical Englishman named Stanley (Colin Firth), a master illusionist with little faith in the power and existence of the supernatural. After a performance one night, Stanley’s friend Howard (Simon McBurney) asks Stanley to travel to the Catledge family mansion to unmask a clairvoyant who has manipulated her way into the family using false powers. Brice (Hamish Linklater), the son of the family, is close to proposing to the clairvoyant Sophie (Emma Stone), so Stanley must investigate her authenticity immediately.

After spending some time with Sophie, Stanley is astounded by her ability to go into a trance and draw out personal details from his life. Stanley even takes Sophie to meet his aunt Vanessa (Eileen Atkins), where she again proves herself by revealing details of a previous love affair in Vanessa’s life.

After this, Stanley starts to view the world with entirely new eyes, becoming less cynical and breaking off his engagement with his equally sceptical fiancée. Stanley then holds a press conference to tell the public that he believes that Sophie is indeed authentic. But he soon finds out that all is not as it seems.

Themes

Romance; trust and betrayal; the supernatural; belief versus rationality

Violence

Magic in the Moonlight has limited violence. There are several sequences featuring apparently violent magic tricks that might disturb younger viewers. For example:

  • Stanley appears to cut his assistant in half while she lies in a long box.
  • After another trick, Stanley yells at his assistant for almost stabbing him, because it might have put blood on his clothing.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Magic in the Moonlight has some scenes that could scare or disturb children under five years. For example:

  • Stanley and Sophie are worried that they are ‘going to die’ after their car breaks down during a thunderstorm. There is lightning and heavy rain, but they escape to a nearby observatory.
  • Throughout the movie, Sophie appears to go into disturbing trances in which her eyes roll back and her voice changes. In one scene, a candle floats in the air (seemingly without strings or supports), and there is mysterious knocking in response to questions. 

From 5-8
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, Magic in the Moonlight has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:

  • Stanley’s Aunt Vanessa is in a serious car accident (not seen) and needs surgery, but she recovers fully. Stanley is very upset. While waiting in the hospital, he starts to pray aloud that she will recover.
  • Stanley and Sophie talk a lot about God, religion, the afterlife, angels, ghosts and the supernatural.

From 8-13
Some children in this age group might also be disturbed by some of the scenes mentioned above.

Over 13
Nothing of concern

Sexual references

Magic in the Moonlight has mild sexual references. For example:

  • Sophie asks Stanley if he feels any attraction for her ‘as a woman’.
  • There’s a suggestion that a man should not enter the room of a male colleague, because it might lead to accusations of sodomy.
  • Sophie reveals that Aunt Vanessa had a past affair with a married man who was a public figure.

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

Magic in the Moonlight shows quite a lot of substance use. For example:

  • Men and women drink alcoholic beverages. They have shot glasses of whisky and scotch when meeting informally, glasses of wine over dinner, and cocktails and martinis at formal parties.
  • Both men and women smoke cigarettes and thin cigars throughout the movie. Doctors smoke cigarettes in a hospital.

Nudity and sexual activity

Magic in the Moonlight shows some mild sexual activity. For example:

  • Stanley and Sophie share a passionate kiss after Stanley proposes at the end of the movie, and Sophie accepts.
  • Many of the women in the movie are shown in revealing clothing. The magician’s assistants wear bras or midriff-baring tops. Some women at formal parties wear low-cut dresses and semi-transparent skirts with slits up to the thigh.

Product placement

None of concern

Coarse language

Magic in the Moonlight has mild language, name-calling and religious exclamations.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Magic in the Moonlight is a romantic story about love, betrayal and identity. Sophie changes Stanley so significantly that he begins to re-evaluate the way he views the world in general. Even though she betrays his trust, his feelings for her remain and he is willing to forgive her. In this sense, the movie shows the power of love and the complex reality of relationships, as well as the need for compromise, forgiveness and compassion towards others.

The movie has some scenes that might disturb children under 12 years, and its themes make it more suitable for children aged over 14 years.

Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include:

  • being true to yourself and your feelings, and being honest about them with the other people in your life
  • understanding the consequences of lying and manipulating others
  • guarding against gullibility while remaining open-minded to other people’s opinions.