|Emma Stone, Colin Firth|
Some critics carped that Allen has been over these themes too many times. Faith vs. the lack of it, spirit vs. reason, magic vs. humbug. I say, keep trying, Mr. Allen. and with fare such as this we all may be able to find answers together.
One of the complaints is that Colin Firth and Emma Stone are mismatched for a romantic comedy. Some say he's just too old (I suspect those who wrote that are male), others that the chemistry between the pair is lacking. It may have seemed so because Firth's character is resistant to falling in love, in fact, he doesn't seem to consider its possibility until irrationality takes over his skeptical mind. As always, he is an extremely appealing actor, particularly in his stolid clumsiness. When he actually gets to a proposal of marriage it is reminiscent of the one he bumbled through in his portrayal of Mr. Darcy all those years ago. Is that performance so long in the past that we don't recall his perfection? How he almost singlehandedly creative an avalanche of attention to not only Pride and Prejudice but all of the works of Jane Austen? He does it again here in a thoroughly captivating scene, one that provides some of the few laughs in the film. There are elements of Rex Harrison as Prof. Higgins, wrestling with the irrationality of even considering romance as redemption. He is one of the best actors of his generation.
Emma Stone, I am uneasy saying, reminded me of young Mia Farrow here. She seems frail and waiflike, but as if she is working at it, where with Farrow it was second nature. But she pulls it off and the two of them kept me on edge wondering whether or not, or if.
The scene between Firth and Eileen Atkins, playing his wise and experienced aunt, was a masterpiece of English restraint and playing of the subtext. Like a scene from Oscar Wilde--without the puns and built-in laughs--they talked around a subject until he was led to the unavoidable conclusion that she had never once mentioned.
The settings, costumes and cinematography must be mentioned. It is on a par with Vicki Cristina Barcelona for capturing the look and color of the place. As always in Allen flicks, a soupçon of sprightly love songs from the period adds atmosphere.
This is escapist fare worth watching, with thoughts to think on love, death, philosophy, and magic. If you're in the Rosendale/New Paltz/Kingston area, it will run at The Rosendale again tonight at 5 and 7:15, Sunday and Monday nights at 7:15.