Rough Magic (1997)
Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.
This lively road-movie is set in Mexico and is based on James Hadley Chase's story Miss Shumway Waves a Wand. The tale is set in 1950 as the sophisticated, handsome heir to a uranium fortune, Cliff Wyatt, is being groomed to become a presidential candidate. Unfortunately, his single status presents a major stumbling block and so he ends up getting engaged to an orphaned magician's assistant, Myra Shumway. The trouble begins when Myra realizes that Cliff is really a slime ball, and she gets a roll of incriminating film that proves this. With this evidence, she flees to the wilds of Mexico where she hopes to find a renowned and ancient shaman. She is pursued by one of Wyatt's agents, one Alex Ross, a burned-out newspaper reporter permanently scarred by the sight of Nagasaki after the bombing. He ends up joining her on the quest. En route, Myra also hooks up with Ansell, an impoverished British physician who also desires to see the mysterious shaman. The three travelers must hurry and find him before Wyatt's henchmen find them. … More
|Rating:||PG-13 (adult situations/language, violence)|
|Genre:||Drama, Art House & International, Mystery & Suspense, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Comedy|
|Directed By:||Clare Peploe|
|Written By:||Robert Mundi, William Brookfield, Clare Peploe, Robert Mundy|
|In Theaters:||May 30, 1997 Wide|
|On DVD:||Aug 6, 2002|
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as Myra Shumway
as Alex Ross
as Doc Ansell
as Cliff Wyatt
as Diego's Wife/Tojola
as Telegraph Man
as Delivery Boy
as Burly Usher
as Clayton's Assistant
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Critic Reviews for Rough Magic
Audience Reviews for Rough Magic
This very strange brew of film noir, magic realism, and screwball adventure is an entetaining mess.
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.
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?
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