Winter’s Tale will leave you exiting the theater in one of three manners: a) scratching your head, baffled by what you just saw; b) doubled over in laughter at the lameness of it all; or c) tearing your hair out wondering how four Oscar winners and a handful of blockbuster stars somehow agreed to make this travesty of a film.
Based on Mark Helprin’s 1983 fantasy novel, Winter’s Tale stars Colin Farrell as Peter Lake, an orphan-turned-thief/mechanic. He and his bizarre haircut are on the run from Pearly Soames, Peter’s ex-mentor and sort of demon mob boss, played by Russell Crowe. Within the first ten minutes, you’ll know what you’re in for: Peter escapes Pearly’s capture by flying away on a magical white horse – his new guardian angel.
While attempting one last heist before he skips town, Peter barges in on Beverly, a red-headed beauty dying from tuberculosis. Immediately smitten, Peter uses the powers of love, miracles, and the human spirit to try and save her from her impending death.
Any touch of magical sentiment is drowned in overbearing symbols of light and the stars, of magic and the battle of good and evil. It’s all incredibly lame and at some points laughable – like when Pearly visits his boss for permission to track down Peter, and his boss turns out to be Lucifer himself. Played by Will Smith.
But wait! It gets weirder. After a strange and befuddling turn of events, Peter survives and awakes in the year 2014, meandering through the five boroughs of New York City with no memory of his past. He meets Virginia (a cold and lifeless Jennifer Connolly) and all of a sudden his life has meaning again: he must save Virginia’s red-headed daughter from dying young. Somehow Virginia remains totally unphased; it seems Connolly would rather be anywhere else than in front of the camera. I don’t blame her.
Once again on the run from Pearly, Peter enlists the help of Virginia and her boss, who just so happens to be Beverly’s little sister all grown up. Seriously. She has to be at least a hundred years old at this point yet she’s as spry and with-it as Gloria Stuart’s Old Rose Dawson in Titanic.
By far the most disappointing thing about Winter’s Tale is the fact that so many big names are attached. With Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, William Hurt, Will Smith, Jennifer Connolly, and Akiva Goldsman at the helm, you’d expect much better than this. Everything was off: the dialogue, special effects, suspension of disbelief, and screenplay adaptation.
The film’s tagline asks us to believe in miracles. Sorry, not this time.