Sexy comedies take a variety of forms. In the early days of Hollywood, tight fitting sweaters and the occasional flash of ankle would stir the sexual tension. Over the decades, on screen relationships have been through burlesque, strip clubs, nudity, and graphic sex. Through it all, there is an underlying charm that continues to make them so much fun to watch.
On a Magical Night is a French movie that explores the sexual past of Maria Mortemart (Chiara Mastroianni) . Maria is a college lecturer with an active sex life. When her husband finds out what she has been doing, Maria decides it is time to check in to a hotel. During her stay, she confronts the men and women of her past. Along the way, she learns about what might have been and where her life is headed.
The highlight of the film is Mastroianni. She exudes power from the opening sequence involving her young lover. In a great moment she scolds a young female student for prattling on. It is hilarious and immediately makes Maria the hero of On a Magical Night. It makes complete sense (and is laugh out loud funny) when the student she is sleeping with secretly asks her to call him back.
Things quickly change when Maria’s husband Richard confronts her about her affair. In a moment that can be described as liberating but comes off as unsympathetic, Maria simply blows off her affairs. It is one thing to for a person to live their life; here, Maria comes off as cold and uncaring. She tells Richard it is no big deal and not to dwell on what she doing with her life. She then leaves the apartment they share to stay in a hotel.
It seems like the start of a movie about a woman who knows what she wants finally decided to throw off the shackles of marriage. Despite her nonchalant attitude towards sex, Maria is an incredibly interesting character. It is evident she already does what she wants for sexual fulfillment. Now, she is off to possibly learn new things and start a new life. Unfortunately, things do not quite work out like that.
As the title suggests, On a Magical Night is a fantasy. Once Maria is at the hotel, she is visited by every man she has slept with during her marriage with Richard. She also meets a younger version of her husband and her will. Again, the premise is there for a good story. Before Maria sets off on her new future, she has to come to peace with her past.
Helping things, is the movie is consistently funny. On top of that, there are some great characters and the plot is engaging. As the film continues, things get a little confusing with Maria’s motivations. After being seen as independent and confident early on, she never seems to be able to make a strong decision. It is unfortunate since Mastroianni gives such an excellent performance. This is actually something that hangs over the entire film. Often, On a Magical Night ignores its whimsical set up to ruminate on life and love. It is never the farce it promises to be.
A comedic fantasy romance opens plenty of avenues for storytelling. The idea becomes even more engrossing when you have a powerful lead. Chiara Mastroianni gives a wonderful performance in On a Magical Night. It also has a fantastic premise that offers so much to its audience. The story will engage audiences and Maria is a fun character to watch. It is also another case where the fantasy is better than the reality.
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