Historically, most magicians seemed cursed to dark lives of tragedy, inner turmoil, and mental instability, not to mention the constant mind-fuck of not quite knowing what parts of their “powers” are and aren’t real. Added to that, there’s the endless hustle of show business in a shady freakish world where dishonesty runs rampant and a fickle audience who worship you one day and completely lose faith in you the next. To say that most magicians have “issues” is like saying it gets a little warm in the valley in the summer.
Magician Ronny Roman is no exception in Andy Conlan’s brilliant film, “The Last Magic Show”, a movie that probes deeply into the world and inner psyche of one tormented illusionist. The beauty in this film comes from the poignant portrayal of a man whose life is both enhanced and dismally screwed up by the dark powers he may or may not even really have. “The Last Magic Show” creatively ponders the deeper meaning of not only the supernatural, but the human existence as well. You will leave wondering where illusion and trickery end and where real magic begins. You will wonder if any magician is really magical or if maybe there is some magic inside all of us. You will think about the life forces that are across the board stronger than all magic and where magic can actually exist and help in the real world.
More than anything you will wonder if Ronny Roman is really magical at all, and just when you think you’ve made a decision about this, something will happen and make you change your mind again and again.
What we do know is that Ronny (played by Andy Conlan) wholeheartedly believes that, although his stage magic is pure illusion, the “dark powers” inside him are real. He has no actual proof of this, except his belief that these powers have protected him from feeling the pain from something absolutely horrible in his past.
Ronny is in the process of trying to stage a comeback, after freezing during a death defying escape act two years prior, botching the entire trick, and ruining his once promising career. But this belief in his powers propels him through slimy agents, slacker managers, sleazy reporters, bottom of the barrel magic gigs (like performing at birthday parties), and the constant scorn of people in and outside of his profession who constantly doubt his abilities.
One night a mis booking by his manger leads Ronny to a hospice. He learns that the job is not performing magic but going room to room serving drinks (yes, real drinks with liquor) to the sick, old, and hopeless who have come here to die. This mistake turns into a life changing experience. He meets Henry, an old man with spinal cancer who Roman connects with an continues to visit. He also meets Sarah March, (Georgie Hill) a beautiful and strange nurse, and the charming chemistry between them immediately sizzles.
Still staging his comeback, Ronny’s luck changes when he meets Celestine, a really hot albeit trashy lowlife who agrees to be his assistant, mainly as an excuse to get on television and start her own modeling career.
The plots interweave perfectly as Ronny prepares for his new escape act, wrestles with the ghosts of his past that aren’t quite quelled by his “dark powers,” learns more about Henry, who’s health continues to fail and who reveals disturbing and sad secrets of his own, and falls deeply in love with Sarah. Well acted, darkly lit, and gorgeously shot, the dark undertones of this story seem to ooze off the screen.
Will Ronny Roman pull off his upcoming escape? Does he have the power to heal Henry and stop him from dying? Can he let go of his belief in the dark powers and be with Sarah without the fear of harming her? And again, is he indeed magical? As the story builds to an exciting climax and these questions are answered, you will be reminded of exactly why you love independent cinema.