No animals were harmed in the making of “Black Magic” but human credulity toward animal spirits gets a punishing workout in modest “Spiderman” meets “Cat People” hybrid. Artfilm heartthrob Gregoire Colin is Aton, a humorless university student and competitive fencer whose orderly life tips into uninvited metaphysical realms. Ultra-moody widescreen tale utilizes pro FX and a punchy score to explore the possibility that immortal panthers might try a working-class suburb of Paris as their new home. Viewer reactions are sure to range from ‘Imaginative food for thought’ to “Gimme a break!”
When a prof who had bonded with an Amazonian tribe dies, Aton’s long-absent father, Marco (Jacky Berroyer), is hired to replace him. Late egghead’s daughter Nina (Romane Bohringer) acts in an experimental theater troupe and is eager to locate one of her dad’s missing Amazonian diaries. Suddenly feral, Aton’s reaction to hosting a panther’s essence registers as cranky annoyance (“I missed my exam!”) rather than the aura of wonder more common to movie protags confronted with the unknown. Multicultural ‘burb of Saint-Denis is nicely lensed.