New York 1916 – Peter Lake (Colin Farrel) is a thief who has been raised by a demon, named Pearly Soames (Russel Crowe), who controls the criminal life over the Five Points.
When he grows up, Peter decides to run away from Pearly and the gangster’s life. He’s all alone when he finds a white horse, which is the spirit of the universe. This leads him to his true destiny. While robbing a house he meets Beverly (Jessica Brown Findley), a girl who’s dying for tuberculosis. He immediately falls in love with her and finds out that he has the power to make a miracle and save her life. Pearly runs after him, trying to destroy his love for Beverly and eventually Peter fails to rescue her from death. Peter survives for more than a hundred years up to nowadays, where he has another chance to realize his love miracle.
Winter’s tale is a fantasy drama with an impressive scenography, magical atmosphere and a soundtrack that really helps to recreate a world of angels, demons, humans who fight for love and can cross the distance of time in order to accomplish their destiny. However, the attempt to adapt 800 pages of novel in two hours of film hasn’t properly succeeded. Despite the good intentions and the original and interesting story, it’s quite evident that the whole matter was compressed and that the screenplay is garbled with holes thus to fit the runtime and the cut in the production investments (from 75 to 45 millions). It’s hard to understand the deepness of the characters, which act as the classical stereotypes of the good, the wise or the evil.
…a flat and plastic film…
It’s noteworthy the willingness to recreate a fantasy space where things like love and destiny are values to preserve, but the film is absolutely not believable, even for a magic realism kind of film. Many scenes are useless and badly synchronized with the others, and the lyrical and emotional layer that the story would deserve to reach is often missing. The good performances of the cast, especially Russel Crowe in the role of the cunning and heartless Pearly Soames, are strong points that frequently save the movie from dropping into an empty and childish form of entertainment, and together with the soundtrack, the scenes and some shots are pleasant and intriguing to watch.
What doesn’t let Winter’s tale take off is the superficiality through which a brilliant author like Akiva Goldsman was maybe forced to work, and that contributed to making a flat and plastic film without the intensity and the dramatic power that it should have.
…a chaotic mix of dreams, banal philosophical sentences, and predictable storylines…
It’s appreciable that a narrative like that was brought to the big screen, but the result is a chaotic mix of dreams, banal philosophical sentences, and predictable storylines.
I prefer to think that Goldsman was obliged to cut the material and to simplify the characters’ flaws, because it’s disappointing to see a film that while talking about miracles, fails to render the poetical vibration necessary to create a real one.