‘The Magic of Belle Isle’ Movie Review
There must be balance in the universe and movies such as Rob Reiner’s new film, The Magic of Belle Isle, ensure that balance in the world of cinema. When there are too many flicks about rude teddy bears and male strippers, a very simple, very sweet offering comes along to even things out.
Morgan Freeman plays Monte Wildhorn, a somewhat noteworthy, but wheelchair-bound novelist who has lost his passion for everything. Left to house-sit a lakeside cabin for the summer, Monte reluctantly befriends his next-door neighbor Charlotte (Virginia Madsen) and her three young girls, in particular middle child Finnegan (newcomer Emma Fuhrmann). By mentoring Finnegan and falling for Charlotte in a May-December flirtation, Monte rediscovers that life is worth living.
It’s a very basic plot without too many twists or turns. The girls are both pretty and precocious, the town is full of quirky characters and there’s even an uncooperative dog for laughs. However, there is not, as the title would imply, much in the way of “magic.” Belle Isle is an island in the middle of the lake that Finnegan is desperate to reach by way of a homemade raft, but that journey is anti-climactic to say the least. Maybe thirty seconds of the movie takes place on the titular isle.
The highlight of the film is Morgan Freeman’s performance. There is a reason why the man is a film legend; his portrayal of Monte is both comedic and tragic. He makes you believe that an attractive, forty-something mother of three would fall in love with a cranky, disabled man thirty years her senior. The kiss they share could have been uncomfortable, but it wasn’t and a lot of that is because of Freeman’s undefinable appeal.
The term “feel good” was designed for movies like this one, so do not expect much in the way of edge. What you will get in return is a lovely picture of an ideal world where good people get good things in return. It may ring totally true, but it’s a nice escape for a couple of hours.
The Magic of Belle Isle is currently playing nationwide.