Rough Magic (1997) - Rotten Tomatoes

Rough Magic (1997)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Rough Magic Trailers & Photos

Movie Info

Director Clare Peploe (wife of Bernardo Bertolucci) adapted this blend of noir mystery and magical realism from the story Miss Shumway Waves a Wand by James Hadley Chase. Bridget Fonda stars as Myra Shumway, an apprentice to a magician (Kenneth Mars) in 1952 Los Angeles. Myra is unhappily engaged to Cliff Wyatt (D.W. Moffett), a sleazy, Howard Hughes-like uranium heir who wants to run for president. After her fiancée accidentally kills her boss, Myra flees to Mexico in search of a renowned female shaman who may be able to teach her the secrets of magic. Wyatt sends an investigator, Alex Ross (Russell Crowe), to find Myra and bring her back. A former photojournalist traumatized by the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Ross finds Myra but falls for her and joins her on the quest to find the medicine woman, as does Doc Ansell (Jim Broadbent), an eccentric patent medicine salesman seeking an ancient Mayan cure for constipation. During the journey, a series of mystical events occur, including levitation during sex, a dog with the power of speech, a human being laying a blue egg, and the transformation of an assailant into a sausage.more
Rating: PG-13 (adult situations/language, violence)
Genre: Drama, Art House & International, Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Robert Mundi, William Brookfield, Clare Peploe, Robert Mundy
In Theaters:
On DVD: Aug 6, 2002
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment


Bridget Fonda
as Myra Shumway
Russell Crowe
as Alex Ross
Jim Broadbent
as Doc Ansell
D.W. Moffett
as Cliff Wyatt
Euva Anderson
as Diego's Wife/Tojola
Kenneth Mars
as Magician
Andy Romano
as Clayton
Michael Ensign
as Powerbroker
Gabriel Pingarron
as Telegraph Man
Santos Morales
as Policeman
Richard Sassin
as Delivery Boy
Rene Pereyra
as Policeman
Gregory Avellone
as Burly Usher
Mark del Castillo Mo...
as Clayton's Assistant
Chris Otto
as Mechanic
as `Dog'
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Rough Magic

Critic Reviews for Rough Magic

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (8)

Rough going.

January 1, 2000
USA Today
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | November 6, 2002
Minneapolis Star Tribune
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Rough Magic


This very strange brew of film noir, magic realism, and screwball adventure is an entetaining mess.

Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

What an oddball of a movie! Set during the early '60s but plays more like a detective story from the '40s, at least during the first half. Bridget Fonda is not an outstanding actress nor will she win a beauty pageant, but she's always held some inexplicable allure with me - Queen of the Plain Janes in a way. She does look her best as magician's assistant Myra who flees to Mexico with photographic evidence of her fiancee Senator Wyatt accidentally shooting her mentor. On her trail is P.I.-for-hire Ross, played by Russell Crowe still getting his feet wet in Hollywood. There is some great snappy banter between the two and they exude a nice sexual tension, and this section is the best part of the movie.

Then we meet Doc Ansell, amusingly played by Jim Broadbent, who wants to enlist Myra to acquire the secret formula to an elixir with magical properties from a reclusive woman who chants on a mountainside, and things get really goofy. A man turns into a sausage, a woman lays an egg that hatches a spider, a guy instantly drops dead, a dog speaks, people levitate, and a woman coughs up her heart. I have no idea what director Clare Peploe's grand design was for Rough Magic - many of these elements are fun but so bizarre it's hard to discern the function to the form.

This movie has gotten raked over the coals here on Flixster, and there is some justification, but it certainly is more entertaining than most bombs. Some great dialogue and chemistry between the leads buoy the original yet crazy developments; you could do a lot worse on a rainy day than by turning on Rough Magic.

Doctor Strangeblog

Super Reviewer

This movie about magicians predates THE PRESTIGE and THE ILLUSIONIST by quite a chunk of time-- heck, I'd almost forgotten Russell Crowe was in it, mostly because at that time the world and I didn't know who he was. To think that Bridget Fonda was the real celebrity back then! Still, not bad-- really retro and charming. Give it a try, why not?

meg rrrrrrrr

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