Tonally speaking Magic Magic hits the nail on the head, achieving- from start to finish -the truly disconcerting notion of an oncoming storm. From the start, things seem to be piling up against Juno Temple’s Alicia, a girl so wrought with anxiety and despair it’s a wonder she was allowed to travel on her own in the first place. It doesn’t help that Sarah (Emily Browning) the friend Alicia travels to Chile to visit, has to abandon her for mysterious reasons with her Chilean friends on a lonely island.
When considering psychosis and exotic locations, things never really pan out. The Beach, Lord of the Flies: automatically the situation seems doomed. Mortality and youth, compulsion and human nature seem at the heart of the film, but aren’t explored in any particular depth. This is a film which attempts to show how misunderstandings and anxious minds can turn even the most innocent actions into purposeful attacks on personal peace. However it’s still a basic attempt at putting across a basically dull story.
Under all the crossed wires, misunderstood moments, and exaggerated pains, the most unnerving aspect of Magic Magic is how it puts across genuine insanity; Temple does a wonderful job of letting her stability slip away in a way that is understandable yet entirely infuriating. Her unadventurous and cowardly nature are so convincing you’ll pity her more than anything, until she gets a little too kooky. Special mention goes to Michael Cera’s near-demonic Brink, a creation so utterly loathable you can barely keep yourself from shouting at the screen. He’s prankster, manipulator and quietly closeted to a degree that’s just over the “bromance” line. Together Temple and Cera forge a screen relationship built on unspoken hatred that charges through sinister mannerisms,past bird violence, and lands somewhere around oral rape.
Apart from performance and a gloomy aesthetic, not much else can push this slow-burning pscho-thriller into any exceptional ground, even a slap dash race for the voodoo vote. It hits the notes you expect and maintains a level head throughout, bar a few brave moments where it musters the courage to show how much an insomniac and a compulsive fool can mess with each other.
Director: Sebastian Silva
Stars: Juno Temple, Michael Cera, Emily Browning, Catalina Sandino Mareno, Agustin Silva