Written and Directed by Akiva Goldsman
There are many thoughts that went through my head when I saw the cover art and poster for Winter’s Tale. First and foremost, Jessica Brown Findlay looks like she is the beautiful love interest with Colin Farrell as the dashing suitor and oh look, at the top it says that Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelley are in this too. I wondered if snowflakes would fall on their head while they kissed and declared their love for one another. Once I settled on watching it, the movie was nothing of what I had anticipated.
Winter’s Tale to be succinct about the plot, if that is even possible is about a man named Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) who was the son of immigrants, who shipped him to NYC in a tiny boat, not sure how he survived that voyage, and who is now in the 1900’s both a practicing mechanic and thief. He lives in an attic of sorts in Grand Central Station, from the top he is able to see everyone coming and going and the hustle and bustle of city life.
He grew up as an orphan and was raised by Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), with a giant scar on his face and his mob attitude; he is scary to say the least. Turns out he is actually a demon and is now fixated on destroying Peter. The problem is he does not know where he is, so he and his henchmen set out to find him. When they discover him, Peter is able to evade them by jumping on a magical horse that appears out of nowhere.
Now Peter and his magical horse are ready to skip town, but the horse stops in front of a mansion and he believes the horse is trying to tell him that they should do just one more robbery and then get the hell out of dodge. Inside the house lives Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), she sleeps in a bedroom near the roof of the mansion so that she can cool off because she has consumption or tuberculosis, which causes her to feel consistently feverish. When she discovers that Peter is in her house, trying to steal from their safe, she offers him a cup of tea. How Downton Abbey of Beverly to offer her intruder tea.
The two sit and sip tea and talk for hours and they both realize that they were made for each other. Now Pearly realizes that he is out gallivanting with this auburn haired girl and he seeks out to destroy both of them. In order to find them, Pearly has to request a pass to go past the city from his demon boss, the Judge (Will Smith). The whole ordeal shows that in the city both good and evil persists. Off to search for them he goes and the saga continues. This is where the movie goes from weird to weirder to a medley of what the hell is going on moments.
The movie then moves rapidly from the past to the present day. In Central Park, Peter connects with a little girl and her mother (Jennifer Connelley). Yes, Peter is still alive and let me tell you, he looks pretty hot still for a 100 year old man. When he sees the little girl, she reminds him of Beverly’s little sister and with this sudden memory he goes down to the library to look up the Penn family’s history. The mother works there, of course and she realizes that Peter is from a different century.
The rest of the story revolves around saving the little girl, Connelley’s relationship with this strange, kind man and his realization that his destiny was to save this little girl. All the while, he employs his magical horse to help him.
If at this point, you are reading this and are really confused, then you will know how it feels to watch this movie. The plot is disjointed and all over the place. The film on the outside appears to be one that will be a love story, but that part of the story itself felt rushed and not properly told. I would have enjoyed seeing Peter and Beverly’s love grow for another; instead it was over before it even started. Beverly’s family story was also rich with details, yet those were touched upon very quickly and never properly divulged. I believe those details could have added a nice feel to the film and could have helped with the cohesiveness of the story.
The film was adapted from Mark Helprin’s novel of the same name. The story is supposed to be magical, mixed with mysticism and fantasy and a love story underneath it all, but what ended up being told was a tale that seemed a bit silly and pointless. A magical unicorn and demons, as odd as that sound it could have worked, as it does in other movies and TV shows, but the fact that it was not done properly only added to the failure of the film. The disjointedness of the film made these magical like components seem like a mockery of what the author had intended.
Does anyone out there remember the sirens that went off on the island on the show Lost? I feel like those sirens should start blaring out around this film, in hopes of deterring anyone else from watching this monstrosity of a movie. If you haven’t seen it, please stay away from this film. If you have seen it, then I am here to console you and your sorrows of wasting 2 hours of your life.