The Magic of Belle Isle
There’s a comforting inevitability to The Magic of Belle Isle, as an alcoholic author spends a soothing, rejuvenating summer in a sleepy lakeside village. (It was filmed at Greenwood Lake in New York, not Detroit’s historic island park.) The wheelchair-bound Monte Wildhorn (Morgan Freeman) wrote Westerns and the ornate formality of his speech blunts the occasional misanthropic barb. He also shares a decorous cordiality with neighbor Charlotte O’Neil (Virginia Madsen), who’s retreated to her family’s vacation house during a divorce. Monte gradually succumbs to the community’s relentless cheeriness, becoming a tutor to 9-year-old budding writer Finnegan O’Neil (Emma Furhmann) and an out of left field suitor for her resilient, optimistic mother. Guy Thomas’ script finds humor in small moments of kindness and director Rob Reiner returns to The Bucket List territory, sans the life-affirming adventures. This Belle Isle has no melodrama, just folks quietly settling into a new life and delighting in their unexpected good fortune.
Review by Serena Donadoni
Released on July 7, 2012
Originally appeared in Indiewire.