Based on Mark Helprin’s beloved 1983 novel, and adapted by Oscar-winning screenwriter-turned-director Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind), Winter’s Tale tells a story of supernatural beings and fairy tale romance.
It spans from present day Manhattan and early 20th century New York to tell a love story between a thief by the name of Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), and the daughter of a wealthy newspaper publisher named Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), who happens to be dying from tuberculosis.
This movie has picturesque cinematography, thanks to expertise of Caleb Dechanel and Naomi Shotan. Imagine a fairy tale Disney animation turned into real life. The Disney like elements are not just limited to cinematography but expands to the look of each character. Having a magical flying white horse also helps.
Another redeeming quality is the great acting. Winter’s Tale boasts some of the best actors and actresses in the business, and they certainly do not disappoint. Russell Crowe is in his element as the demonic temper tantrum throwing crime boss. He doesn’t have to try hard to command your attention. It would have been even better if his and Farrell’s character faced off more.
Jessica Brown Findlay’s (Downton Abbey) talents are in full effect in this role. She encompasses the beautiful yet doomed heiress perfectly and guarantee to leave the viewer wanting her to have the “happily ever after”.
Colin Farrell and Findlay are engaging, and between them share a chemistry that lights up their scenes together. Farrell manages to mix his rough charm with the sincerity in his performance of a lost man that wants meaning and love.
Jennifer Connelly and Matt Bomer have rather small-ish roles, though good, they don’t have much to work with. The best character has to go to Will Smith. It was a breath of fresh air seeing him in such a role. As it is a cameo, I won’t give away too much.
Winter’s tale tries to fit in the story of the bad boy turns prince charming, power of love, forces of heaven and hell, magic, time travel fantasy, destiny and fate. Unfortunately it doesn’t quite come together. All the elements mentioned above should leave the viewer with a strong residing reaction to the story, instead you are left thinking it is diluted. Especially compared to the book.
Plot holes are extremely evident, you can be excused if you start scratching your head when a 107 year old character (read: normal human) is re-introduced and happens to still be running a family business, She is rather lively and radiant for someone that should be long gone.
I’m being vague about the film’s plot because I don’t want to ruin all of its twists, sentiment and decades-spanning love story, for all those hopeless romantics that are drawn to this film. While it is not a movie for everyone and fans of the book might be let down, I am certain it will still have its fair share of admirers.
I rate it 5 stars out of 10.
Winter’s Tale is out in cinemas now.