FILM: The Magic of Belle Isle starring Morgan Freeman

There may be some real magic in Rob Reiner’s new film The Magic of Belle Isle because I managed to connect to the film and enjoy it despite its overtly sappy, sentimental, and often predictable narrative. But the magic is in large part found in the cast which features Morgan Freeman, SNL’s Kenan Thompson, and outstanding newcomers Emma Fuhrmann and Ash Christian.  The film is essentially a romance novel in reverse with Freeman playing Monte Wildhorn, a drunken, disgruntled former Western writer who’s taken by his nephew to the small town of Belle Isle where he finds his life transformed thanks to the divorcée next door Mrs. O’Neil played by Virginia Madsen and her three daughters, notably the precocious middle daughter Finnegan played by Fuhrmann.

The film has its flaws, most notably Madsen’s role as the mother and love interest, which doesn’t feel authentic for a variety of reasons along with the dialogue, which feels too scripted at times, but the comedic moments and young Emma Fuhrmann who is totally compelling alongside Freeman, allows the film to ultimately win you over.  Generally, this kind of film is best viewed at 30,000 feet in between LaGuardia and LAX but it certainly has its moments thanks to Rob Reiner, Freeman, and Fuhrmann and those scenes are redeeming enough to give it a chance even if you’re not in flight.

The Magic of Belle Isle starring Morgan Freeman and directed by Rob Reiner opens nationwide July 6th.


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About Tim Needles

Tim Needles is an artist, photographer, humorist, and writer from Long Island, NY. His writing and art work has been seen in multiple exhibitions and publications around New York as well as the Photographer’s Forum, French Photo, the New York Times, and LI Pulse magazine. He is also an educator and currently teaches art and film at Smithtown, NY and as an Education Leader for Adobe. He was recently the recipient of the Robert Rauschenberg Award in Washington DC and serves as the director of Strictly Students, a non-for-profit group for media and education. His work can be seen on his website: www.timneedles.com
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