“Winter’s Tale” sets up the supernatural in the first scene when a pair of immigrants are denied coming to America and instead choose to place their baby inside a model ship and sail him to America. The baby eventually washes up on the shores of New York and grows up to be the thieving Peter Lake (Colin Farrell, “Saving Mr. Banks”).
The movie jumps to 1916 Manhattan with Peter running from a Manhattan crime-boss, Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe, “Man of Steel”). In the midst of a robbery he gets caught by the 21-year old Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay, “Downton Abbey), who is dying of consumption. Between the somewhat chuckle-worthy and corny dialogue, the two lock eyes and it is love at first sight.
Throughout the first half hour of the film Peter is told he has one miracle in him meant for a single person, and the film’s main plot of good versus evil is brought out. Soon we find out that Pearly is a servant to the devil himself and must help to restore a natural balance on Earth. As the romance between Peter and Beverly takes off, their love story becomes more clichéd and predictable.
The inevitable battle between Peter and Pearly is escalated by Beverly’s death and “Winter’s Tale” moves from 1916 to a present-day version of Manhattan. In the first shot of the present day, Peter comes crawling out of the river without any question about where he has been for the past 98 years. Neither the movie’s plot nor the dialogue between characters explains what happened with Peter over the time. The biggest explanation seems highly overused—his mission in life hadn’t been fulfilled therefore Peter couldn’t die. Through a course of luck, Peter finds his mission in life is to use his miracle saving an adorable child, Abby, who is a cancer patient.
As a mythical love tale, “Winter’s Tale” has many great graphics and beautiful cinematography. A flying horse, Athansor, comes to Peter’s rescue multiple times. The graphics of the horse and its wings are perfectly put together; it’s as if this animal was meant to have wings. One of the major themes of the movie is light, and with this theme come lens flares drawing attention to the way light hits certain objects. However, the effect looks tacky and distracts from other things happening in the scene.
The film is split 50/50 between 1916 Manhattan and present day—never allowing for a complete bonding between viewer and character. “Winter’s Tale” focuses on deeper questions of what happens to us when we die, but are answered with clichés, things like turning into stars when we’ve served our purpose in life. Instead of expanding a moment and allowing a connection to form not only between characters on screen but also between character and audience, “Winter’s Tale” switches through subplot after subplot. There are several interactions between Peter and Abby as well as Peter and Beverly’s little sister that allow for awe-inspiring moments, but they’re few and far in-between.
The script of “Winter’s Tale” lacks thoughtful dialogue and action. The film’s talented group of actors isn’t enough to combat the lack of carefully chosen dialogue and viewer connection. What was set up to be an epic supernatural romance movie turned out to be a slow-moving, boring flop. Released on Valentine’s Day, “Winter’s Tale” doesn’t seem to be an eternal love that will last throughout the ages as the taglines suggest; instead, it’s a slow, boring ride into the stars.
1.5 out of 5 stars