Magic Magic, 2013.
Directed by Sebastián Silva.
Starring Michael Cera, Juno Temple, Emily Browning, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Agustin Silva.
A delicate and fragile young woman takes a Chilean roadtrip with some of her cousins’ friends, with unsettling and unexpected results.
Juno Temple could never be accused of choosing easy roles. The St Trinian from somewhat humble, inauspicious beginnings has developed as an actor by diversifying wildly by genre and tone. From a creative family (mother producer, father director) it comes as no great surprise that she has ended up pulling faces for money as a chosen profession.
Even at the tender age of twenty-five, she already has an enviable CV of roles, such as the aformentioned St Trinians, The Dark Knight Rises, Greenberg, Killer Joe, Lovelace and this project to name but half a dozen in a career littered with influences from a host of directors that have given her a solid grounding. Soon, she will appear in Maleficent and the new Sin City. Not bad for a girl whose face you often knew, but just couldn’t put a name to at the time.
In Magic Magic, Temple enjoys the spotlight in an admittedly formidable cast, joining fellow Brit Emily Browning (Pompeii) and Michael Cera (Superbad, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), in an unusual choice of role, but nevertheless gaining an opportunity to flex his acting chops maybe more than he has been challenged before. Whether this is a success, well, you’ll probably have to see it for yourself to decide.
Written and Directed by Sebastián Silva, Magic Magic takes a small group of friends, and one of the friends’ cousins (Temple) off into the remote foothills of Chile for what is supposed to be a bit of R&R.
Out of sorts from the outset, turning up late and jetlagged, Alicia (Temple) seems uncomfortable and uncommunicative with the group of well-intentioned strangers she has just met. Sara (Emily Browning), Alicia’s cousin that has invited her on this jaunt, is very happy to see her, but it appears that the choice of this trip is not perfect for either of them, for reasons that become increasingly clear over the course of the first half of the film.
As an opportunity for a South American travelogue, Silva has made a very nice film, which enjoys some excellent cinematography and you get the feel from the story that he was probably more bothered about how it looked, rather than what actually happened. As such, this writer/director might want to focus his career on the latter and leave the former to one whose passion is words and not pictures.
Regularly frustrating due to its pacing, the plot is something far simpler than you would have expected and the pitch and trailer are clearly quite different to what is actually presented for general consumption. The acting is on par from Temple and you would expect nothing less from her, with able support from Browning, who only really appears to be there to prop up our lead characters’ fragility. There is little actual character development to speak of, save for Alicia herself, whose experiences and the effect they have on her are well documented and her personal journey is nicely considered and carefully dissected.
As for the rest of the cast, they are completely overshadowed by Silva’s need to recant the story of this stranger in a strange land and the film suffers a little too much because there really isn’t enough to say about her and this slows the film too often to snail’s pace. Michael Cera’s eclectic Brink is the writer’s attempt at levity but you get the impression that Silva watched Superbad and thought he would be perfect, yet Cera is not funny on his own and playing against a host of solemn faces means his humour generally falls a little flat.
Not really the psychological thriller you’re looking for, or were expecting. Temple does an admirable job, but overall, this is average fare. A good vehicle for Silva’s direction, but as I say, he might want to steer clear of taking too much responsibility in the writing department in future.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★