Everyman Cinema @ Selfridges
The cinema itself was very lovely, plush armchair seats, great service and a thorough drinks menu. However I didn’t see a difference between this cinema and the others from the Everyman chain (Screen on the Green, Electric etc…) and so I didn’t really appreciate the £20 ticket (yes…£20 each!!) You are essentially paying more to see a film in Selfridges, that’s it. I don’t really mind though because it just gives me an excuse to fuel my makeup addiction by perusing the cosmetics counters beforehand.
The general gist of the film is a world-famous magician, Stanley (Colin Firth) is brought to the south of France to de-bunk a supposed medium, Sophie (Emma Stone), who has the ability to communicate with the spirit world. Then, duh, they fall for each other. Yawn.
If you have seen Woody Allen’s 2011 film ‘Midnight In Paris’ you will be familiar with the 1920’s scenes. Imagine this, but for an entire movie. The whole film had a farcical theme, which thinking about it now was probably intentional, but it just seemed really over the top and false. It was almost as if they were performing a play, reminiscent of The 39 Steps in the West End.
Despite it’s over-the-top-ness, it was pretty dull it parts too. I found myself wishing, pleading, for Firth to stop droning on and get onto the next scene. My main issue with the film came from the relationship between the two love interests. My friend Hannah who I went to see it with raised the very good point that Firth and Stone have “visually incompatible faces” – and its very true. It made me think of all the films of the 50s and 60 in which beautiful and young leading ladies were paired with considerably older and less beautiful men (see Audrey and Fred Astaire in ‘Funny Face’, Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby in ‘High Society’, Cary Grant with pretty much everyone in all the films he made in the 50s and 60s etc..)
To give you an idea of what I mean, here are a couple of pictures that demonstrate this incompatibility:
If I had not seen the film and had only seen these photos, I would imagine Emma Stone is asking, full of wonder, “Dad, why is the world so big?” or something along those lines. Basically they look weird together. It’s just weird. I actually found it quite uncomfortable if I’m honest. The two of them had very VERY little chemistry together, perhaps it was Sophie’s bubbly American inquisitive persona versus Stanley’s staunch and stern-faced pessimism that didn’t fit together. Perhaps it was just that Colin Firth is TWENTY NINE YEARS OLDER THAN STONE!!! I just. I can’t.
It also didn’t really have a beginning, middle and end, more lots of little beginnings and a weak ending. At parts the film was quite funny, due to the writing of the characters and the notion of séance but other times it fell flat, which has more to do with the actual dialogue. I don’t think this was really Allen at his best, it felt like a rushed script perhaps. Unless the intention was to be OTT and comical, then I suppose he succeeded.
COSTUMES and styling were impeccable, however. Often in Jazz Age era period pieces, the costuming can be a little OTT and stereotypical (Baz Luhrman I’m looking at you) but this seemed incredibly authentic. As was the music. These little touches helped elevate the film. If you want to know more about the costumes and costume designer Sonia Grande click here. She speaks about how Allen used art from the period as inspiration and you can really feel that throughout the film, there is a great understanding of the time and what was happening. Many artists and writers flocked to the Côte d’Azur at the time to get inspiration from the beautiful french scenery. One cultural artefact that came to my mind was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘Tender is the Night’ set in the French Riviera looking at psychoanalysis (among other things). It’s really interesting to examining this film alongside what was going on in the western world at the time (especially in America.) There was a fierce rejection of religion emerging as science was taking over, this battle helped popularise the rise of psychiatry and other theories of the mind which could be seen in the film (there was a character who was a psychoanalyst). This helped to anchor the film, giving it a sense of reality among all the frivolity.
I really do believe Allen is still a great film maker, ‘Blue Jasmine’ showed that he should sail across the Atlantic, go back to America and stick to what he does best, looking at real people and how they go about their lives, because that’s where he really thrives. Woody – you’ve exhausted Europe now. Time to go home.
The Final Word: Allen completely lost in the moonlight