Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Winter's Tale

Winter's Tale is based on the 1983 novel by Mark Helprin. The film spans between 1895 to present day in Manhattan. The movie follows the story of Peter Lake, a thief who falls in love with Beverly Penn, a dying girl. This much can be gleaned from the trailer. Lake is portrayed by Colin Farrell and Penn by Jessica Brown Findlay. While the two actors have a sweet chemistry together, the movie has one insurmountable flaw. From almost the first frame, there is just too much to suspend ones disbelief.
I suspect the book is rather good, as many books that are turned into movies are. Perhaps reading the tale, it is easier to digest. Also, if the movie was marketed as fantasy of the Lord of the Rings variety, not a Valentine's Day date movie, it might give the viewer more of a warning of what they are in for. Unfortunately, the execution of the material is just not there. Many scenes are laughable because they seem so implausible. I am not talking about rom com unrealistic, I mean supernatural animals appearing out of the blue unreal. Akiva Goldman, who wrote and directed, has a fairly good track record on his previous work as a screenwriter, including Practical Magic, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, The Client, A Time to Kill, The DaVinci Code and Angles and Demons. All but Cinderella Man are based on books. He has not directed a feature film before and it is almost like he tried to use all the genres of his previous work in one film. Multiple actors from his previous adaptations appear in Winter's Tale, most notably Russell Crowe.

The cast is so strong it is really a shame that the overall result is poor. Colin Farrell and newcomer Jessica Brown Findlay give strong performances despite the writing and editing. There is also some pretty heavy-handed narration. Russell Crowe, William Hurt, Jennifer Connelly, Graham Greene, and even classic film star Eva Marie Saint round out the cast. There is a bit of stunt casting that unfortunately I was aware of before seeing the movie and it would have been cool to not have known. Avoid cast lists and imdb if you insist on seeing Winter's Tale for at least that surprise.

It had been some time since I attended a screening and that is always an enjoyable experience. Thanks for sharing passes with me Emily! I wanted to see Winter's Tale but with Oscar season I was not sure if I would make it to theaters. Colin Farrell was so good in Saving Mr Banks that I was eager to see him in a starring role again. He did the best with what he had. This is definitely one to miss in theaters. Miss it at Redbox and do not pay for it OnDemand. Catch it on TNT when you are at home on a rainy Saturday afternoon doing laundry if you must at all. As it may be, sometimes a negative review can encourage one to watch, but fair warning was given.

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