Love story promised but not delivered

MOVIE REVIEW

NADINE HANCOCK
Last updated 05:00 28/02/2014
Southland Times photo
Fairfax NZ
Colin Farrell (as Peter Lake) and Jessica Brown Findlay (as Beverly Penn) in Winter's Tale.

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OPINION: Winter's Tale. Starring Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe and Jessica Brown Findlay; directed by Akiva Goldsman

The trailer for Winter's Tale was completely mesmerising. It promised a tale of a love so strong it could survive even time itself. It asked audiences to believe in miracles and, with the musical help of Birdy's haunting and powerful Wings, I have to admit I was captivated. Captivated enough to start a desperate hunt for the book the film is adapted from.

This hunt ended just two weeks ago when a fellow movie reviewer let it slip that she had the book. After much begging she released it to me allowing me to delve into Mark Helprin's world.

Unfortunately, the experience was not a good one.

I struggled my way through, unable to connect to the characters or the fantastical world. Needless to say, I was disappointed, but I still had high hopes for the film. Hopes that swiftly disappeared in Akiva Goldsman's vision of Winter's Tale.

Set in past and present-day New York, this film tells the destiny of Peter Lake (Farrell). Peter is a thief by trade, on the run from a gang of thieves led by Pearly Soames (Crowe). One early morning he breaks into the home of the Penn family, where he meets and instantly falls in love with the daughter, Beverly (Findlay). Beverly is dying so the couple have only a small amount of time together; time that is threatened to be cut short once Pearly tracks Peter down.

Downton Abbey fans will rejoice to see Jessica Brown Findlay, better known as Lady Sybil Crawley, resurrected on-screen as the ethereal Beverly. Narrating the audience through this magical tale, she is enchanting to hear and watch.

As leading man Peter Lake, Colin Farrell brings a quiet desperation to the role complemented by Crowe's sinister portrayal as the demonic Pearly Soames.

Sadly, those casting decisions are almost cancelled out with the appearance of Will Smith. His portrayal as Lucifer was less than convincing and I couldn't help but hear the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song whenever he was on screen, which was ultimately a distraction from the film.

Everything else about Winter's Tale was uninteresting, clunky and just plain strange.

The only part of this film I enjoyed was the relationship between Beverly and Peter, which was not enough to save it.

It is obvious that Goldsman has a strong connection to this story; a tale that deals with death, angels, demons and destiny. Sadly, I didn't feel the same, even though I was desperate to.

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I wanted to see the love story that was promised in the trailer and instead was presented with a movie that barely resembled it.

- The Southland Times

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