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Magic Magic

Magic Magic

Director: Sebastián Silva

Cast: Juno Temple, Emily Browning, Catalina Sandino Moreno

A vacationing insomniac loses the ability to distinguish dreams from reality while traveling the Chilean countryside with a group of adventurers that includes her best friend and an enigmatic American in this downbeat saga. Though it came to the U.S. billed as a thriller or a horror picture, Chilean director Sebastián Silva's Magic


A vacationing insomniac loses the ability to distinguish dreams from reality while traveling the Chilean countryside with a group of adventurers that includes her best friend and an enigmatic American in this downbeat saga. Though it came to the U.S. billed as a thriller or a horror picture, Chilean director Sebastián Silva's Magic Magic is more aptly described as a dark psychological drama with tense overtones. Juno Temple stars as Alicia -- an emotionally fragile young woman in her early 20s with a murky history. She joins her cousin Sarah (Emily Browning), Sarah's boyfriend Agustín (Agustín Silva), the couple's eccentric friend Brink (Michael Cera) and Agustín's sister Barbara (Catalina Sandino Moreno) for a retreat in the countryside, but from the beginning, things don't go as planned. In the days that follow, more tension erupts between Alicia and the other members of the group, particularly Brink, who displays extreme antisocial tendencies and grows fond of malevolently pushing the girl's buttons. After Sarah returns, all hell threatens to break loose: Alicia is accosted by a local dog that attempts to copulate with her leg; Brink and Agustín play a dangerous game that threatens to cause Alicia grave physical harm, and it becomes increasingly apparent, throughout, that Alicia is now teetering on the brink of a full-scale mental breakdown, which terrifies the others.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
Sebastian Silva's Magic, Magic stars Juno Temple as Alicia - an early twenty-something with a murky history. She joins a group of friends, including her cousin Sarah (Emily Browning), Sarah's boyfriend Agustín (Agustín Silva), the couple's friend Brink (Michael Cera), and Agustin's sister Barbara (Catalina Sandina Moreno) for a retreat in the Chilean countryside. From the first day, however, things begin to go seriously awry. First Sarah must temporarily leave the group in order to contend with a personal matter; then the other three upset Alicia by retrieving a diseased, yelping puppy dog from the woods and then dumping it in the middle of nowhere in lieu of caring for it. After the four travelers reach their cabin, tension begins to stir between the vacationers, especially vis-a-vis Alicia and Brink, who senses Alicia's vulnerabilities and quietly begins to traumatize her. After Sarah returns, Alicia grows increasingly unstable and ultimately teeters on the brink of a complete psychological breakdown; the others struggle to comprehend what is happening and try to determine how to respond properly. You've got to wonder what kind of a movie Silva thought he was making here, for it feels completely confused. There is a shot of Alicia, at the beginning, glaring at herself in a steam-soaked bathroom mirror, with the eyes of a madwoman. It's a stock-crazy expression, an overt nod to Alex Forrest and Peyton Flanders, and it's also woefully misleading: it sets Alicia up as a maniac with homicidal urges, when she's quite the opposite. To begin with, we never believe for a second that Alicia is capable of harming anyone, aside from possibly herself. She isn't a psychopath; the gentle, tender spirit evident in her interactions with animals tells us that much. Instead, she's an emotionally fragile young woman with an anxiety disorder, unusually sensitive to the prodding of those around her, and one whose prospects would improve were she in the company of more mature companions better-schooled in dealing with instability. And until a late-night confrontation that she has with Brink, none of Alicia's actions seem particularly irrational. In fact, it's Brink who comes off as the cracked one. He's an adult with the emotional maturity of a nine-year-old on a cocaine jag - not simply obnoxious, but impervious to the impact of his behavior on others. Sarah alludes to the fact that he has some sort of buried history of psychopathology, and that's an understatement; he's so around the bend that he seems a likely candidate for Borderline Personality Disorder. In one excruciating scene, this cackling idiot attempts to perpetrate a form of physical harm on Alicia as a practical joke - one so dangerous that the guy needs to be sent away and locked in a mental ward to spare others the misery of ever having to deal with him again. He is truly that off-base. It mightn't be a stretch to conclude that Silva wanted to create a thriller where Alicia functions as the protagonist and those around her act as her aggressors, with everything shot through the mentally ill person's eyes. That would explain the sympathy that she so readily generates in our hearts, but Sarah, Barbara and Agustín don't bear Alicia enough ill-will to create and sustain palpable suspense. Sarah is particularly immune to any antagonism against Alicia; she projects an infectious sensitivity to everyone around her. And even in Brink's case, you get the impression that his ill-advised behavior is guided less by conscientious destructiveness than by a pathologically misguided attempt to be the center of attention and the life of the party, sans adequate regard for anyone else's feelings. The overall result is not only a complete absence of tension, but a film that falls more squarely into the category of psychological drama than thriller. And on that level. for roughly an hour or so, it's astutely-observed and intriguing enough that we can gauge it as moderately successful - right up until the concluding thirty minutes. It is here that the movie falls to pieces, as we come face-to-face, once again, with Silva's desire to toy malevolently with our emotions . The finale recalls the mirror shot, which, we realize in retrospect, betrayed the movie's underhanded ambitions as a sleazy button-pusher designed to jerk us around. Over the preceding hour, we've grown to care deeply for Alicia and long for the best outcome for her. And while the ending won't be divulged here, suffice it to say that it catastrophically ruins everything that preceded it. The denouement of this picture is so merciless, anti-climactic, heartbreaking and sick that Silva cannot be forgiven for what he does with the narrative - it suggests that he is a misanthropic sadist, who has traveled far out of his way to make us empathize with his heroine, only to tear up up our sympathy and throw it back into our faces. We feel tricked, cheated, conned, and furious with ourselves for caring in the first place. Not since Michael Haneke's Funny Games has a filmmaker put an audience through such unremitting hell so shamefully and brutally, to such little effect.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Sony Pictures
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Making Magic Magic

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Juno Temple Alicia
Emily Browning Actor
Catalina Sandino Moreno Actor
Michael Cera Brink
Agustin Silva Actor

Technical Credits
Sebastián Silva Director,Screenwriter
Amparo Baeza Production Designer
Danny Bensi Score Composer
David Bernad Producer
Christopher Doyle Cinematographer
Jacob Craycroft Editor
Mark Grattan Costumes/Costume Designer
Joe Healey Executive Producer
Saunder Jurriaans Score Composer
Glenn D. Kaplan Cinematographer
Pamela Koffler Executive Producer
Eric Laufer Executive Producer
Michael Cera Executive Producer
Giovanna Randall Executive Producer
Todd Remis Executive Producer
Alex Rodriguez Editor
Frida Torresblanco Producer
Christine Vachon Producer
Mike White Producer
William Winget Executive Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Magic Magic
1. Chapter 1 [5:01]
2. Chapter 2 [4:06]
3. Chapter 3 [4:57]
4. Chapter 4 [4:13]
5. Chapter 5 [4:25]
6. Chapter 6 [8:54]
7. Chapter 7 [2:59]
8. Chapter 8 [5:40]
9. Chapter 9 [4:50]
10. Chapter 10 [8:12]
11. Chapter 11 [6:25]
12. Chapter 12 [7:01]
13. Chapter 13 [6:57]
14. Chapter 14 [:03]
15. Chapter 15 [5:29]
16. Chapter 16 [6:19]
17. Chapter 17 [12:22]


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