Sebastian Silva’s Magic Magic


Sebastián Silva’s Magic Magic is a terminally bizarre little experimental film that simultaneously fascinates and prompts the viewer to wonder why it was ever made in the first place. Starring a posse of young, uber famous Hollywood talent that usually draw crowds in numbers, Magic somehow managed to slip under the limbo bar and avoid everyone’s radar undetected, no doubt a result of any marketing being smothered by a studio who wouldn’t have been able to sell the thing as it was presented to them. Jarring, aloof, persistently weird and frankly all over the place, it’s worth a look just for the sheer novelty, I suppose. A trip to Chile turns into some kind of nightmare for a group of youngsters played by Juno Temple, Catalina Sandino Morena, Emily Browning and an apparently mentally challenged Michael Cera, when one of them starts to display unpredictably odd behaviour, feverish delusions and violent outbursts that would give Father Lancaster Merrin the willies. Temple, an actress who admirably always takes risks, goes full on whackadoo here as the disturbed girl, plagued by restless mental instability caused by who knows what, subjecting her friends to her unsettling monkeyshines. Cera’s performance is so odd and tonally oblong it’s like he’s in a school play and his lines have been dubbed over by someone who’s first language is not English, I honestly don’t know what he was going for, while Browning does her pale and sultry thing dimly in the background. Is Juno just off her rocker? Are there invisible spirits at work that have latched onto her? Did the filmmakers even know when they made this? My guess is no, and sometimes that can work, but you have to present a final product that at least flows through it’s ambiguous arc naturally, and this one just feels off where it should draw us in. Neat camera work, Temple is engaging as she always is and makes a vivid, if ultimately perplexing impression, but overall it’s an unlit tunnel of a film that we emerge from and go “huh?”, and not in a good way.

-Nate Hill

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