Woody Allen Returns to Rom-Coms With ‘Magic in the Moonlight’

The trailer for Woody Allen’s upcoming film Magic in the Moonlight starring Emma Stone and Colin Firth has been released, and the movie promises to be another European-set romantic comedy more along the lines of Allen’s films Vicky Cristina Barcelona and Midnight in Paris than last year’s dramatic Blue Jasmine, which netted an Oscar for actress Cate Blanchett.

The movie is set in France in the 1920s, promising plenty of beautiful scenery of the French countryside as well as dazzling Jazz Age parties. Stone plays a psychic, who may or may not actually be able to see into peoples’ pasts and futures, and Firth plays a firm skeptic of her ‘powers,’ who also has a night job performing magic tricks in disguise as an Asian magician. As Firth’s character — known as “the greatest debunker of fake spiritualists” — attempts to prove that Stone is a fake, the two wind up falling in love. The trailer represents the first details that have been revealed about the film’s plot.

The movie plays on details of magician Harry Houdini’s life. While Firth’s character isn’t explicitly based on Houdini, the real magician did dedicate much time and energy to debunking spiritualists and spiritualism in general, something that ruined his friendship with author and spiritualist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Houdini spoke about his work disproving those who claimed the ability to communicate with the dead in his book A Magician Among the Spirits. The iconic magician inspired future magicians to undertake the same venture. Training in magic allowed magicians to more clearly see the tricks spiritualists used to convince people they were speaking to the dead.

The movie is Allen’s first time working with Emma Stone, but it won’t be his last. The iconic director has already tapped the actress to star in his next, currently untitled, picture, according to an exclusive report from Variety. The as-yet-untitled movie will also star Joaquin Phoenix and is expected to begin shooting in July, though no plot details are known for now.

Magic in the Moonlight sees Allen making yet another romantic comedy set in Europe, a trend that’s been seen in the director’s work in recent years. The highly acclaimed Blue Jasmine is set in San Francisco, but before that Allen made several romantic comedies that feel like love letters to European cities including To Rome With Love, Midnight in Paris, and Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Allen has recently been rocked by sex abuse allegations from former wife Mia Farrow’s daughter Dylan. While some of the director’s friends and collaborators have come forward to defend him, it remains to be seen how audiences will respond to one of his films in the wake of the scandal.

Emma Stone most recently appeared alongside boyfriend Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, which received lackluster reviews and didn’t perform quite up to expectations at the box office, as it seems both critics and fans have grown a bit tired of the franchise. Joaquin Phoenix stars in the recently-released drama The Immigrant alongside Marion Cotillard, which has garnered rave reviews. The Academy Award-winning French actress plays a Polish immigrant who arrives at Ellis Island only to be swept into prostitution by a pimp, played by Joaquin Phoenix, when she realizes surviving in Manhattan is going to be tougher than she thought.

Magic in the Moonlight is set to hit theaters July 25.

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