That Juno Temple, bless her. Between her acting debut in Richard Eyre’s 2006 drama Notes on a Scandal and last year’s Linda Lovelace biopic Lovelace, she’s played all sorts of second fiddles, horny teenagers, prostitutes and an utterly superfluous role in The Dark Knight Rises. If you’re shaking your head, pointing out disbelief at my erroneous claim, I kid you not. She appeared as Anne Hathaway’s flatmate, boasting a two-minute screen time that might as well not have existed and Christopher Nolan’s show would have still carried on blazing like fire. But that’s not stopping Temple’s star from rising – recently surging into the scene with diverse acts, top-billing a welter of indie films including this psychological Polanski-esque drama Magic Magic, where she plays the schizophrenic protagonist whose trip to Chile goes far down south into holiday-from-hell territory.
It’s a role that someone like Courtney Love in her twenties could have done in her sleep, but Temple mesmerises in quite possibly her best performance to date. And she’s easily the best thing about Magic Magic, her portrayal of a young woman pushed into the edge by an extreme accumulation of jet-lag, insomnia, alienation, paranoia and the company of cunts (with Michael Cera acing the arsehole type magnificently) as they stay in a remote lake house is both convincing and shattering. Her slow yet steady descent to madness is exacerbated by the fact that no one knows she’s suffering some mental dislocation – a form of paranoid schizophrenia that sends her to nighttime fugues and extreme states of fear that suspends her ability to distinguish her hallucinations from reality.
The ragtag of loathsome individuals that accompany Temple’s clearly fractured and frail Alicia all collectively push her to the brink – Emily Browning’s weak-willed cousin Sarah and her inept Chilean boyfriend Augustin (played by the director’s brother, Agustin Silva), who uses hypnotism with Alicia as a part of a joke, and his arrogant, snobbish sister (Catalina Sandino Moreno). But the biggest douchebag of them all is the aforementioned Cera as Brink – offensive, ungainly and immensely obnoxious – he’s the last tool in turning Alicia’s screws loose, as she spirals all the way down to a horrific conclusion that exposes the damning lack of common sense some people have. If I’m surrounded by despicable dimwits like these, I’ll lose my mind, too.