One of the most deeply unsettling films made in the past few years! Magic Magic follows Alicia, a native Californian who travels to Chile to spend time with her cousin, Sarah. Along for the ride is Barbara, a forbidding young Chilean, Augustin, Sarah's boyfriend, and Brink (Michael Cera), who is just plain creepy. As the days go by, Alicia, who is not sleeping and is taking several kinds of medication, begins to lose her grip and struggles to distinguish reality from hallucinations. The premise of the film comes off as rather trite, but the execution is actually more than effective. Usually, in these kind of 'descent to madness' movies, it is spelled out to the audience at the beginning that there is something 'wrong' with the main character. The charm of Magic Magic is that the viewer is completely alienated through the abrupt beginning and is given absolutely no edge on any of the characters in the film. It is, in this sense, a shockingly real and visceral experience.
Beyond the surface lies another layer to the madness. At it's roots, Magic Magic can be seen as a movie about the insecurities of Americans and their inability to cope under foreign circumstances. Alicia is forced to live in a jungle with no technology and she is driven to tears because she can't use her cell phone. She also tries to comfort herself by reading Freedom by Jonathan Franzen but finds she can't concentrate in her surroundings. Seen under this light, the movie is more unsettling and relatable to it's American viewers.
What really makes Magic Magic pop though is the terrific and incredibly realistic acting from the entire cast. Juno Temple (Alicia) and Michael Cera (Brink) are especially noteworthy in their portrayals of deeply-flawed and emotionally unstable characters. On the technical side, the intrusive camera style mixes perfectly with the ominous, unnerving musical score to create a paranoid atmosphere that doesn't let up for one second until the very last frame.
Chilean writer/director Sebastian Silva deftly manages to create a film that sticks out as both unique and artfully meritorious in the often-corny and unrealistic psychological thriller genre.