What a charming movie…just delightful. A perfect movie to take your grandma to for her birthday. Perhaps more of a Mills and Boon romantic comedy rather than a more literary Jane Austen romance but sometimes that’s what you want. How can you resist Colin Firth…the thinking woman’s favourite British actor.
Stanley (Colin Firth) is a magician by profession with a stage name Wei Ling Soo working in Berlin in the 1920’s. His friend Howard also a magician invites him to the south of France to check out a young spiritualist called Sophie (Emma Stone) who has amazing psychic powers but maybe about to scam all their money off a wealthy American family, the Catledges. He is to prove she is a fraud as no one could have those powers of intuiton and insight. At their first meeting Sophie is remarkably accurate with her perceptions of Stanley. Her vibrations tell her he was recently in Germany and he has something to do with China. As a magician he is looking for the explanation for her tricks but does not find it. She does a séance for Mrs Catledge to connect with her dead husband to ask his advice on financial matters. Stanley sits back and watches the séance critically but still cannot discover Sophie’s tricks.
It’s beautifully filmed..summer in the Cote d’Azur is wonderful for the wealthy in the 1920’s. Life is just picnics and tennis, long lunches and a swim in the pool. The clothes, the cars, the houses and the flapper’s ball are all very well done in perfect detail. Stanley takes Sophie for a drive in a convertible in the French countryside and in classic romantic cliché the car breaks down and Stanley cannot fix it. Then there is a thunderstorm and they have to shelter in an old observatory. This is the start of the romance between them but Stanley decides to take a nap rather than make the most of his romantic opportunities with Sophie. An incident with Stanley’s aunt Vanessa changes the course of their lives…but that’s all I will say. If you are old enough to have watched and loved “A room with a view” when it came out you will like this. It’s very Merchant Ivory in the detail and pace of the film.