It’s not so magical
By Jessica Dwyer
It’s not often I have to force myself to sit through a film. Usually I can find something to enjoy about a movie and focus on that, even in the direst circumstances. Magic Magic though gave me nothing to hold on to. It simply wanted me to suffer through it, which I did.
Directed by Chilean Sebastian Silva, Magic Magic follows young Alicia (Juno Temple who does her best wide eyed stare and freak out face) who is visiting her cousin in Chile. This is her first time out of the country ever and it would appear she didn’t do much in the way of preparation. She doesn’t know the language, her cousin Sarah hasn’t explained any of the living situations or who her friends are, and she has absolutely no coping skills when it comes to jet leg or stress.
In fact Alicia starts off acting weird already and being creeped out by everything around her. That includes Michael Cera as the oddly named Brink who most people would have kicked in the balls after only a couple of the things he says and does after just meeting her.
Sarah leaves Alicia in the care of her friends as she’s called away to school. Within a day Alicia is already freaking out more as she’s taken to a remote island with very little to no cell phone reception where everyone lives with a bunch of sheep and a horny dog.
While the DVD box and the trailer will lead you to believe the film is a typical psycho group preying on a girl horror flick it isn’t. In fact it’s not a horror film at all really, but more of a psychological strangefest as we see Alicia slowly go crazy and sleep deprived.
I would also add the word “annoying” to that description. Magic Magic is annoying and irritating to boot. Now I know that might be the route the director is going for, so you can relate to Alicia and her feeling of unease and isolation at not knowing anything anyone is saying or anything about the country she’s in either…but that’s also known as being stupid. I don’t feel sympathy for Alicia. I feel like grabbing her by the neck and shaking her and telling her to shut up and deal.
But the thing is I feel like doing that to every character in the movie, especially Michael Cera’s Brink who seems to be going for the most annoying and most unlikeable in the film. Once again I’m guessing that’s what Silva was going for, but I get the vibe at the end you are supposed to feel sorry for him. I don’t know…the whole film is confusing on so many levels and that includes the ending.
Silva’s film plays out as awkward, confusing (I can’t say that enough as we have many characters talking in Spanish but no subtitles for those scenes set to show up…I guess that’s supposed to help with the whole “sympathizing for the main character” thing, but it only adds more annoyance,) and random. It has moments that are just ugly (such as the puppy abandonment and the shooting of a beautiful bird for no reason) but he does have some lovely landscape shots in there. But if he’s trying to get visitors for Chilean tourism this isn’t the movie to use.
In the end Magic Magic doesn’t really know what it is and we the viewer will walk away not knowing either. Was it a horror film? Not really. Was it a thriller? Well no, nothing thrilling really happened. It would be best described as “the dangers of jet lag and prickish behavior.” And that’s a sad statement since the film could have been so much more. In the end Magic Magic’s spell was broken the minute I pushed play.