Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

Winter’s Tale | Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Will Smith, William Hurt, Eva Marie Saint, Jennifer Connolly | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for Lasvegasroundtheclock.com
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Winter’s Tale | Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Jessica Brown Findlay, Will Smith, William Hurt, Eva Marie Saint, Jennifer Connolly |  Review

A sparkly, preachy fable, Winter’s Tale has all the trappings of a film that should have been remarkable, but isn’t.  Another thing it “isn’t” is profound, although it desperately wants to be.

Modern day Moses Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) whose immigrant parents set him, as an infant. afloat in the ocean in a most precarious way, grows up into a life of crime in New York during the early part of the 20th century.  

Gang boss Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe) and his thugs violently pursue Lake, who escapes with the help of a magical white horse (who is really a dog, they say), falls for the terminal Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay) daughter of a publishing magnate (William Hurt) and consummates his union with the dying girl amid talk of miracles and grand, swelling stretches of tasteful music.

Meanwhile, the not-quite-human Soames gathers for strategy sessions with HIS boss, Lucifer (Will Smith) and is hell bent on hunting down and destroying Lake, who was once part of his crew.  

Switch to present day New York  (don’t ask how) and an updated set of circumstances that include a journalist (Jennifer Connolly) and HER dying daughter (everyone seems to have one) who cross paths with Lake for more shimmery moments.

Soames is still in hot pursuit and the white horse is still around, a guardian of sorts for Lake.  Eva Marie Saint makes an appearance as a character from the distant past to provide some kind of continuity, but by this time the viewer is either disappointed or swallowing all of the sentimental silliness faster than popcorn.

Twinkling stars?  You’ll see them.  Miracles?  You bet.  Enchantment?  Yes and no.  While the film is certainly pretty to look at, its various sequences of events are executed unevenly and background narration adds an annoying, sanctimonious note:  “Each baby born carries a miracle inside.” “Everything is connected by light.” “What if we are all part of a great pattern which we may some day understand?”

That last one is probably something that the film’s producers hope the audience buys, along with a ticket.  

Academy Award-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) makes his debut as feature director, adapting the popular 1983 novel by Mark Helprin as well.  The film is ambitious, set in a “mythic” New York where nothing has to be explained – it just is.  Perhaps the novel does a better job of conveying the story, but the film does not, opting instead for lavish settings, inane dialogue and CGI to fill the 129 minute running time.  Even the fine cast can’t overcome the script’s deficiencies, which tend toward the cloying instead of the compelling.

Despite being derived from such promising source material, Winter’s Tale comes across as a less-than-stellar snow job.