Director: Akiva Goldsman
Writer: Akiva Goldsman
Based on: Mark Helprin‘s novel
Cast: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, William Hurt, Jennifer Connelly, Kevin Corrigan, Matt Bomer, Lucy Griffiths, Scott Grimes, Kevin Durand, Graham Greene, Will Smith
Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) didn’t have it easy in his life so far. He’s an orphan who didn’t go through the best part of the system and ended up living with and working for Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe) as a thief. When the two of them have a falling out, Peter runs, aided by a mysterious and magical horse, and ends up robbing Beverly Penn’s (Jessica Brown Findlay) place. But only until he sees her: Peter immediately falls for her. But Beverly is dying and only a miracle could save her. A miracle Peter might just have in himself.
I don’t think I read one good word about Winter’s Tale and I do understand why. The film has issues. But nevertheless I really enjoyed it, sometimes in the way the movie intended and sometimes laughing about the film.
I haven’t read the book the film is based on and I’m not sure I would want to after seeing the film. But one can only hope that it was written better than the script to this film. The dialogues were ridiculous, the characterizations superficial and everything that could be called character development or plot was practically spelled out, twice, slowly, just in case you missed it let me tell you again. In short, it had too much of the wrong things and too little of the right things. And that is not even mentioning that the story is utterly cheesy.
Yet somehow the movie ends up having a certain cavity-inducing charm. There is the fact that Colin Farrell is so much better than what he gets to work with (as in 90% of the films he does) and holds your attention (despite the worst haircut he’s ever sported. Or maybe because of it). [Though why he spoke with an Irish accent nobody knows.] There’s the fact that you get to see a horse fly over New York – and who wouldn’t want that? And some of the cheesiness just has the intended effect. (Some not so much. Especially the children in this film were so incredibly weird in their kinda-kitsch. More like how somebody would imagine children to be who never had much contact with any children.)
But even more entertaining than the kitsch was Russell Crowe. I don’t know what they’ve been feeding him recently but in the last few films I saw with him, he hammed it up so hard watching him act was an awesome spectacle. And his performance here was practically the crowning effort. It was wonderful. Plus, Will Smith’s Judge was brilliant, too and the two of them together were great. I want a spin-off. The Adventures of Pearly and Lucifer. Please? [More worrying though is that I recognized Will Smith – who I didn’t know was in the film at all – from a shot of the back of his head and ear in darkness….]
There were also some frankly problematic things. While I enjoyed the appearance of Graham Greene, he was only introduced to give an explanation for the horse. Because obviously magical Native Americans know about magical things. [Not to mention the cultural appropriation aspect of why a white dude would get a spirit guide.] Plus, Peter Lake literally gets to ride in on a white horse to save the lady of his heart from a bad guy who threatens to hurt her and there was not the slightest bit of irony about that scene as all. And Beverly generally was only there so Peter could fulfill his destiny and not as a character in her own right.
Despite those things I did enjoy the film. If you need some sugar in your life, you could do worse than watch it.