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Winter's Tale

Winter's Tale

Genders: Fantasy, Drama, Mystery

Director: Akiva Goldsman

Writer: Akiva Goldsman (screenplay), Mark Helprin (novel)

Actors: Colin Farrell, Matt Bomer, Lucy Griffiths, Michael Patrick Crane

Year: 2014
Run time: 118min
IMDB score: 6.2
Updated: 3 years ago

Movie infomation

Movie name: Winter's Tale

Genders: Fantasy, Drama, Mystery

Imdb Score: 6.2

Runtime: 118min

Released: 14 Feb 2014

Director: Akiva Goldsman

Writer: Akiva Goldsman (screenplay), Mark Helprin (novel)

Actors: Colin Farrell, Matt Bomer, Lucy Griffiths, Michael Patrick Crane

Box Office: $12.6M

Company: Warner Bros. Pictures


Imdb Link

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Not as bad as many make it out to be

5/10 First some background, I'm a guy, a shoot 'em, blow 'em up, Clint Eastwood luvin dude. I do appreciate however a good romantic story. Also, I have NOT read the book, heck, never even heard of it until now.

So that said, here is my take. The haters seem to fall into three major categories.

First, there are the "loved the book, hate the movie" types. Since I never read the book, I can't speak to this, other than to say, "Sorry, it's not the book, it's a movie". I always tell my kids that the medium of film is radically different than that of pulp and what "works" in one doesn't necessarily work in the other. Given that, one should go into a movie with an open mind, even if you've read the book.

Second, there are the "I never read the book, the movie didn't make sense". Now that I can talk to. I never did find myself all that confused. I think falls in large part to the fact that I never assumed the movie was supposed to be based on reality. I mean come on, given the rather obviously "fantastic" aspects of the story, it's not meant to be taken seriously. You're given an overarching concept (basically the power of love to do amazing things) and if you buy in, then the particulars are not really all that important. If you can't get beyond that, or simply don't buy into the central conceit, then you won't like the movie because it rides that wave for all it's worth.

Third are the folks who thought the movie was too schmaltzy. Now that I would at least partially agree with. That said, again, the movie doesn't try to hide the fact that it wears it's heart on it's sleeve. It's fair that if one does not go for that kind of thing, then you won't like this film.

All that said, I thought it was a "good" romantic film. My personal criticisms fall mainly on the somewhat wooden acting and the overall lack of "feel". That's right, despite all I said above there was just something about the film that just never really drew me into the characters. For some reason I never really felt truly emotionally invested in the characters. I didn't hate them, I did care, just not nearly as much as I thought I should. I also thought some of the acting was a bit forced and this might have contributed to not being able to lose myself in the characters. Almost like the actors did a good job of "acting" like the characters but never quite crossed into "being" the characters.

So if you're willing to accept the movie for what it is, an unabashedly romantic film that weaves religion as an integral part of the story, then I think that you will enjoy the film. It's not perfect by any sense of the imagination, but IMHO it's not nearly as bad as some folks are making it out to be.

3 years ago

Loved It

5/10 As the reviews indicate either you'll love it or hate it. I loved it, my wife hated it. Quite a turnaround considering I wanted to see Robocop, but it was her turn to pick. Slow and confusing in the beginning but picked up speed after the first encounter of Peter and Beverly. The Characters were immediately likable and the two child actresses were captivating. Russell Crowe was great as Demi-Demon Pearly Soames. The visuals were terrific. It kind of made me think of Titanic with Demons, Angels and even a Pegasus replacing the Boat. All under the winter NYC backdrop. Pay attention to the dialogue because there were several of those "oh wow - that's what that meant" moments later on.

3 years ago

Nicely balancing fantasy and realism, this magical tale of love through the ages works as a sweet Valentine's Day escapist trifle but little more

5/10 If you don't believe in the stuff of destiny and miracles, then you
might as well not bother with 'Winter's Tale'. A magic-realist romance
based on Mark Helprin's 1983 bestselling novel of the same name, it
spans present day Manhattan and early 20th century New York to tell a
love story between a petty thief by the name of Peter Lake (Colin
Farrell) and the daughter of a wealthy newspaper publisher named
Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), the latter of which also happens
to be dying from consumption.

But before you think this is going to be some sappy melodrama a la a
Nicholas Sparks novel, acclaimed screenwriter Akiva Goldsman's
directorial debut actually has a lot more going for it.

First, there is an Oliver Twist-twist (pardon the pun) to the tale.
Peter's love for Beverly earns the consternation of the malevolent
crime boss Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), who has raised Peter since
boyhood as part of his criminal enterprise. It is not just Peter who
time- travels; rather, Pearly's blind pursuit of the one whom he thinks
has betrayed him also spans the century. Much as this is at its heart a
love story, it never hurts to have a little action now - especially
when it's Farrell and Crowe playing the hunted and the hunter

Besides also being a minor gangster saga, there is also the inimitable
element of magic in the proceedings. It isn't just coincidence that
Beverly exclaims 'The sicker I become, the more clearly I can see that
everything is connected by light!', accompanied of course by some CG
dazzle. Peter's ability to travel through the ages is also no fluke,
not least for the fact that he rides a pretty spectacular looking
flying white horse with the name Athansor. Part of the mystery lies in
finding out just who Peter is, seen at the start in present day
riffling through a box on the roof of New York's Grand Central station,
mirrored in his own search for his true identity with the help of
Jennifer Connelly's newspaper columnist.

But it doesn't end there, and depending on your faith, this is either
where it gets interesting or plain absurd. Heaven is depicted as a
place among the stars. Athansor turns out to be Peter's guardian angel
- and not the only spirit animal walking the Earth we may add. Will
Smith turns up as Lucifer, more 'Judge' though than anything else. And
perhaps most significantly, Peter discovers that he has some truly
divine powers, so much so that by the time it is all over, he has
become a Jesus figure. No matter the wistful or whimsical tone that
Goldsman tries to achieve, how much you buy into its motifs of life,
death, rebirth and the enduring power of love will ultimately determine
if the magical woo-woo will come off as hocus pocus or something much
more meaningful.

To his credit, Goldsman does try his best to make the fantasy
enchanting. Every image that is meant to be adorned with magic comes
off looking as if it were a page out of a picture book – in particular,
Beverly's abode looks like a mansion straight out of a Disney cartoon
perched on the edge of a frozen lake. There is an otherworldly feel to
the entire telling, and like its title suggests, one cannot deny that
it does transport you to a live-action fairy tale world. And yet
despite displaying a heretofore unseen visual imagination, the
Academy-Award winning screenwriter of such acclaimed dramas like 'A
Beautiful Mind' and 'Cinderella Man' disappoints by leaving out the
weightier aspects of Helprin's novel.

Most prominently, by fashioning it as a pretty romance, Goldsman
neglects the author's moral meditation on the meaning and purpose of
justice. Helprin's prose was rich in portraying the industrial
Edwardian era style of a mythic New York City, through which the
injustices of that Metropolis was vindicated with the promise of
redemption and salvation through death. These are difficult to portray
no doubt, but their omission leaves ultimately a watered down story
that works as a fairytale romance and little more.

Nonetheless, Farrell and Findlay are never less than engaging leads,
and between them share a sparkling (pun intended yet again) chemistry
that lights up the scene more than Goldsman's literal CG additions. On
his own though, Farrell once again puts his roguish charm to good use,
oozing sweet earnest sincerity in his performance of a bad boy who just
wants a chance to be good again. He is also well-matched with Crowe's
glowering screen villain, whose imposing presence effortlessly commands
your attention.

Though far from the stuff we have come to expect from Goldsman,
'Winter's Tale' still works as a time-travel fantasy romance that
espouses the hope that love be ageless and timeless. It might not be
the thoughtful adaptation fans of the book may be expecting, but those
looking for a Valentine's Day trifle will find plenty to ogle at and be
delighted about. At the very least, Goldsman uncannily balances fantasy
and realism, and even though it isn't quite magical, it promises to be
a moving tale of enduring love that will sweep you off your feet.

3 years ago

It feels churlish to suggest it, but Winter's Tale might have benefited from another director making more sense out of Akiva Goldsman's script.

4/10 Directors making their feature-film debuts don't typically have their pick of Hollywood's finest (and busiest) stars - unless they're Akiva Goldsman, that is. For his fantastical romance epic Winter's Tale, the Oscar-winning screenwriter has corralled the likes of Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Colin Farrell and Eva Marie Saint: an accomplished cast that would make many a more seasoned director envious. The trouble is that Winter's Tale never really comes together as Goldsman clearly wants it to: the writing is smart and occasionally very good, but the film flounders when it should soar, losing rather than gathering pace and tension as it goes on.

The story - based on Mark Helprin's ponderous 1983 novel - 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 Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), his frankly insane, literally demonic Irish thug of a mentor. While on the run, Peter encounters a mysterious white horse that points him in the direction of the Penn mansion. Initially looking to steal himself something nice, Peter sets aside all thoughts of pilfering treasure from the Penns when he meets and swiftly falls in love with Beverly (Downton Abbey's Jessica Brown Findlay), the beautiful, flame-haired mistress of the house who is slowly being eaten alive by consumption.

It's all very romantic, or so we're told, with a supernatural element folded into the love story: Pearly becomes convinced that Peter is destined to save a girl with titian hair, an action that would upset the teetering balance between good and evil. Indeed, Peter's burning love winds up keeping him alive for over a century, until he meets single mom/super-journalist Virginia (Jennifer Connelly) and her daughter in modern-day Manhattan. It soon becomes clear that fate, destiny and a whole lot of mystical mumbo-jumbo are at work here, and Peter will soon discover the healing and restorative powers of love itself.

To be fair, Winter's Tale is built upon a raft of quite interesting ideas. It hints at, rather than belabours, the notion of good and evil taking physical form: Pearly lurks through Manhattan, a gangster by trade and a demon by nature. When he decides to confront Peter for good and for ever, he's forced to fight on equal, mortal terms. It's a fantasy universe absolutely begging to be expanded, a fiction that could be real and is all the more tantalising for it.

But Goldsman, in juggling the various elements of his story, lets the opportunity slip him by, instead focusing on the love story in almost excruciating detail - even though he never really creates a connection between Peter and Beverly that rings true. Peter teaches Beverly how to escape her all-consuming fever by slowing her heart down, Beverly explains to Peter how she believes people rise to the stars to find their loved ones when they die - it's all intensely romantic, but hardly emotional. The film then flings a few more tropes and complications into the mix (Peter loses his memory, Peter winds up travelling through the future into our present, love will conquer all etc.), without really stopping to explain just how it all hangs together.

At least Goldsman has pulled together a cast worth watching, even when the film he's constructed around them isn't quite worth their salt. Farrell broods prettily in his boy-band haircut, clearly too old for the part but nonetheless playing it with great gusto. Paying Goldsman back for A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man, Crowe marches through the silliness of his raging, bonkers character with strange amounts of joy. Pearly is easily the film's best character, unless you count the one played by another of Goldsman's Facebook friends (no spoilers, but this movie star is no doubt grateful to Goldman for a script that earned him bucketfuls of acting cred many years ago).

Swimming somewhere in the reams of quite lovely footage assembled by Goldsman and his cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, there's a great movie with great ideas. Once in a while, it bursts through - in the shadowy, dank dungeon of a demon's lair, ruled by Lucifer himself; or the snow- swept sparkle of a moonlit night - but, more often than not, it turns into Winter's Tale: an emotionally distant romantic drama that goes for lush, sweeping depth but comes up curiously cold and myopic.

3 years ago

Don't listen to the critics! Give Winter's Tale a chance!

8/10 This movie is a breath of fresh air. That being said, you have to go into it expecting and understanding it is from the genre of "Magic Realism".

I actually read the entire book by Mark Helprin, unlike most of the professional critics, so I knew what type of movie it was going to be and I had appropriate expectations. The book was around 700 pages and it wasn't a Harry Potter-type 700 pages. The novel is a very complex, wordy, difficult to read and oftentimes very confusing piece of work, jam packed with very descriptive imagery. I found myself reading parts over and over to gain an understanding of it that I still wasn't completely secure with when I was finished. In fact, most people I know have ATTEMPTED READING it, and end up abandoning the book because of the reasons I just mentioned. After I finished the book, I scoured the internet trying to find any reviews of the book to help me understand and see if I "really got it". To my frustration, you really can't find any complete reviews of the book because I'm pretty sure most people (like me) had a lot of confusion with the story as well!

In most of the reviews I read, people are ripping Akiva Goldsman apart saying his adaptation is awful, but I strongly disagree. He had to leave out some of the aspects of the book in the interest of time (For example, a whole storyline of characters from the middle of the book are missing from the film.) He kept the really important parts of the novel and successfully makes them stand on their own.

Leaving the theater, I feel like Goldsman's interpretation ACTUALLY CLARIFIED a lot of the book for me. Incidentally, I went to see the film with someone who had NOT read the book and knew nothing about it, and he thought it was way better that the reviews said as well. As a matter of fact, I definitely liked Goldsman's ending better than Helprin's! I finished the book with the feeling of "What? That's it??? Is my book missing pages?" The movie version is the way I wanted the book to end.

Additionally, Helprin's wordy descriptions played out in my minds eye of the beautiful (and the not-so-beautiful) aspects of the story were brought clearly to life in the movie with the expertly executed "tug-on-your-heartstrings" musical score and cinematography.

So, if you're looking for a curse-them-out, shoot-em-up, or futuristic outer space, or reality-based movie, Winter's Tale would be better rented on DVD. If you're looking for a more philosophical, romantic, thought-provoking fantasy as an escape from most of the usual movies in theaters today, it's worth the ticket price.

3 years ago