Today, I woke to a cool breeze that put me in the mood for a “Winter’s Tale”. But what I thought was going to be a romance, was a poor adaptation of the novel of the same name. I understand the movie is a huge departure from the intended story, which would explain why the film falls apart.
Winter’s Tale, has corralled the talents of Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Colin Farrell and Eva Marie Saint. This is an accomplished cast that would make many directors envious. The trouble is that Winter’s Tale never really comes together. The writing is smart and occasionally good, but the film flounders when it should soar, losing pace and tension as it goes on.
The supernatural story follows petty thief Peter Lake (Farrell) from the early 1900s through to the present day. In 1916, Peter is suddenly declared persona non grata by demon Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe). While on the run from his demonic mentor, Peter encounters a mysterious, winged white horse that points him in the direction of the Penn mansion. Initially looking to steal something, Peter sets aside all thoughts of pilfering treasure from the Penns when he meets and falls in love with Beverly (Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay), the beautiful, flame-haired mistress of the house who is dying from consumption.
It’s all very romantic, or so we’re told, with a supernatural element of Will Smith portraying Lucifer, folded into the story. Pearly becomes convinced that Peter is destined to save a girl with red hair, and upset the teetering balance between good and evil. Indeed, Peter’s burning love winds up keeping him alive, and looking good for over a century, but without his memory. One day he meets Virginia (Jennifer Connelly) and her daughter in modern-day Manhattan. It soon becomes clear that fate, destiny and a whole lot of mystical, odd mumbo-jumbo are at work here, and Peter will soon discover the healing and restorative powers of love itself.
Farrell broods prettily in his boy-band haircut, clearly too old for the part but nonetheless playing it with great gusto. Crowe marches through the silliness of his raging, bonkers character with strange amounts of joy.
Somewhere in the lovely footage there’s meant to be a great movie. Sadly, the director never stopped to explain how all this beauty was meant to hang together. Winter’s Tale is an emotionally distant drama that left me cold. If you still insist on seeing it, don’t expect much.