Edinburgh Bites: Magic Magic Review
Mike Scurfield catches Magic Magic at the Edinburgh International Film Festival...
Like an oncoming storm, Sebastián Silva’s tightly-wound psychological thriller boasts a constantly troubling atmosphere that’s as oppressive as it is impressive. Arriving in a remote area of Chile, Alicia (Juno Temple) is visiting her friend Sarah (Emily Browning). Together, they stay in a small cottage with Sarah’s boyfriend, his sister, and their slightly unhinged mutual friend, Brink (Michael Cera). As the only non-Spanish speaker, Alicia finds herself lost and confused by this foreign land with its languid days and cacophonous, cricket-filled nights. She has trouble sleeping, which in turn bends her mental state into one of fear and paranoia. Increasingly fragile, Alicia’s unprovoked meltdown rattles the group, throwing their quiet break into furious disarray.
It’s the performances that sell this dark gem. But as good as Temple is at falling apart - and here she’s very good; crying, screaming and writhing in anguish when required - the standout turn comes from Cera. Casting off the loveable teen losers of Juno and Superbad, his Brink is a nasty combination of simpleton innocence and scheming reprobate. A wolf in sheepish clothing. The whole film is a bit of a Brink, however; deeply untrustworthy, making for a genuinely unpredictable ride. One scene in which Alicia is hypnotised with a rotating black and white pattern had me turning away in fear of a nasty trick that never came. With close, roving cinematography, claustrophobic sound design and a story that coils ever tighter across its 97 minutes, Magic Magic is a fearless piece of work. Let the dark clouds roll in.