Review: Magic Magic (Sundance 2013)
PLOT: Alicia (Juno Temple) is a fragile young woman, who comes to Chile to visit her cousin, Sarah (Emily Browning). After Sarah has to leave for an important exam, Alicias left alone with her friends, Agustin (Agustin Silva), Brink (Michael Cera) and Barbara (Catalina Sandino Moreno)- on a trip to remote part of the country. Alicia slowly begins to unravel
REVIEW: MAGIC MAGIC is the second film from director Sebastian Silva to play this years edition of the Sundance Film Festival. Like CRYSTAL FAIRY, this features Michael Cera in an atypical role, here playing a deeply closeted tourist whose gone native in Chile. Unlike CRYSTAL FAIRY, which was a drug-fueled romp- played mostly for laughs, with a conclusion that was like a warm hug after a particularly intense trip, MAGIC MAGIC is all intensity- no relief. Of the two films, its easily my favorite- and one that Im certain is going to win Silva a lot of stateside fans.
Ceras mostly regulated to a supporting role here, with his Brink, however atypical, taking a backseat to the real heart of the story- which is Alicias descent into complete insanity. Whether or not any magic magic is involved is left entirely up the viewer- although one of the characters likes to experiment with a little hypnosis- so maybe there is some magic at play.
Juno Temples been popping up in a ton of movies lately, from KILLER JOE to a tiny part in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. Alicias probably her juiciest role to date, as right from our introduction to her, where her jet-lagged tourist is immediately overwhelmed by Sarahs friends, who are a tight clique- its clear shes wound a little tight. Being left alone with them probably isnt the best idea, but other than Moreno, whos quickly established as a bitch, they dont seem half bad. Even Ceras Brink- whos clearly gay, but awkwardly flirts with Alicia isnt all bad, despite his attempts to overcompensate for the chip on his shoulder. Silva lets the tension build slowly, with nothing too horrific, or surprising happening until much later in the film. And when it does, dont expect all out horror- as this opts for a mostly psychological, but still quite disturbing approach.
The last twenty minutes or so are particularly gripping, with Silva getting into a bit of Chilean voodoo- which is exceptionally well shot. While CRYSTAL FAIRY was simple, MAGIC MAGIC is highly stylized and gorgeous- not a surprise as this was shot by Christopher Doyle, who just might be the worlds greatest living cinematographer. Silvas use of music is also exceptionally good, particularly Cab Calloways already creepy Minnie the Moocher which becomes a recurring motif.
All in all- I was surprised at what an effect MAGIC MAGIC ended up having on me, as I assumed it would be another jokey goof like CRYSTAL FAIRY (which was fine in its own right). MAGIC MAGIC is considerably better, and a unique take on the psychological horror genre. Sometime the scariest things are that which lurk within. This is something Silva seems to understand well. Sure- MAGIC MAGIC is not particularly scary, but its nerve-wracking, atmospheric and tense. Its also very memorable, and something I found myself thinking a lot about in the days after watching it. Surely, thats the mark of a really good movie.