There’s a scene that made me think that Magic in the Moonlight might be a critical self-examination of Allen’s own nihilistic ideology. At some point in Magic in the Moonlight, rather early into the film, there is a scene where George, a psychiatrist, makes an impromptu diagnosis of our protagonist Stanley (Colin Firth), noting him to be neurotic, depressive, nihilistic, etc. It’s the usual ten cents that anyone with eyes and ears can discern from a majority of male protagonists in Woody Allen films, but there was a dryness about the diagnosis this time around, or, at least when I noticed it. Comments of this kind are made about Firth’s character from nearly everyone, but the coarseness of them is sharper than normal.
There’s something eerie about Woody Allen’s versatility. While some would be quick to accuse Allen of making the same film over and over again with the same archetypes repeatedly, his ability to oscillate between genres, tones, and moods is astonishing. He can do straight romantic comedy (Scoop), humane dramedy (Annie Hall/Manhattan), laugh out loud absurdity (Love and Death/Bananas), Keaton and Chaplin inspired slapstick (Sleeper), Bergman-esque ruminations on human contact (Another Woman, Interiors, Hannah and Her Sisters, and September), German Expressionist comedies (Shadows and Fog), and even put comedy and tragedy up against one another to juxtapose and complement (Crimes and Misdemeanors/Melinda and Melinda). With his newest film, Blue Jasmine, Allen comes the closest he’s been in years to perfection and the closest he’s come in his career to making a horror film.