Director: Akiva Goldsman.
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, William Hurt, Will Smith, Scott Grimes, Jennifer Connelly.
Running Time: 118 minutes.
Synopsis: Set in a mythical New York City and spanning more than a century, WINTER’S TALE is about miracles, crossed destinies and the age-old battle between good and evil.
‘This is not a true story, it’s a love story’ is the tagline for the directorial debut from Akiva Goldsman, screenwriter of A BEAUTIFUL MIND. Actually, it’s not a love story at all, it’s a pointless story masquerading as one. Initially we are led to believe that we should be rooting for ragamuffin Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) who meets and falls in love with Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay) after trying to rob her house. Their love story is, of course, doomed as Peter has a powerful enemy in the demonic Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe) and Beverly is dying of consumption.
The story goes that everyone in this world has a miracle to utilise and it’s Peter’s destiny to use his to save Beverly. Should this have been the route A NEW YORK WINTER’S TALE put its faith in, perhaps a cheesy rom-com about the power of love would have emerged. However it seems Goldsman became unsure of his story halfway through and decided to throw a spanner in the works, meaning the audience is left facing an uphill struggle to find reward or satisfaction in what happens next. Goldsman hurries to find a suitable solution to wrap up Peter’s story in a way that will please audiences, but the introduction of Virginia (Jennifer Connelly) and her daughter Abby (Ripley Sobo) is not the answer, with the final voiceover only serving to remind us that this is not a true story, or a love story; it’s a shambolic story.
There’s so much about this movie that doesn’t work, it would almost be easier to list the good points, except there are none. Colin Farrell – who inexplicably maintains his Irish accent throughout the film despite his character living in America for over a century – impressed in his last outing on screen in SAVING MR. BANKS, and to follow it up with this is a real shame. To his credit, not once does he look embarrassed by the abysmal script or try to over-act to compensate for the fact that, honestly, the story doesn’t make much sense. Russell Crowe as villain Pearly is more a pantomime dame than evil demon, and those who disliked his performance in LES MISERABLES will have a field day with Pearly’s scarred face and thug accent. Will Smith’s cameo as the Devil himself might just be the highlight of the movie for all the wrong reasons.
When the credits roll and you are left with more questions than can be answered, it can only be indicative of a sublimely ridiculous piece of filmmaking. How did baby Peter manage to fit in a tiny wooden boat and sail to safety? Why does Beverly never look sick despite being at death’s door for the first half of the movie? What is the significance of the flying white horse who continually manages to rescue Peter from dangerous situations? How can a blurry smudge of red paint mean anything to anyone, let alone supposedly represent Beverly and her red mane? And finally, the most fundamental question of all, why was this movie even made?
(1 / 5) A NEW YORK WINTER’S TALE is released in UK cinemas on Friday 21st February, 2014.