Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of this film, as it was released in February, and that’s when the usual B-rated films, but not bad January films, get released. This is changing due to good movies that get released in February like The Lego Movie, but Winter’s Tale isn’t the unexpected treasure that I was hoping it would be.
You know those films that come out, and you don’t hear about them, so you just think that they are any good? This is one that you can assume isn’t that good, but here’s the thing: Winter’s Tale is trying. When I heard that Akiva Goldsman had written this film, and it was his directorial debut, I was interested in it. Goldsman wrote one of my favorite films, A Beautiful Mind, but he is also responsible for Batman and Robin, which many consider one of the worst films of all time, but I call it “so bad it’s good”.
Sadly, a Winter’s Tale is not “so bad it’s good” and, as stated before, is not “so good it’s good”. The film is based on a book that is an interesting fantasy, and yes, you will have to suspend your disbelief for this one.
The opening scene is about two parents who come to America, but they are denied entry due to consumption, in 1895. Their son does not have the disease, so they put him on a toy boat on their way home. Why do they insist that their son comes to the States? Where did they get the toy boat? What if the current had taken their boy away from shore?
Like I said before, suspension of disbelief. The film then opens with Peter Lake, the boy all grown up, played by Colin Farrell. Sadly, this film starts off with him looking around Grand Central Station. Now, we see this, but we are not told what era this takes place in. I’ll go ahead and spoil this and say that the scene is shown again in the film.
Now, when Peter Lake was a boy, he was picked up by a gangster named Pearly Soames, played by Russell Crowe. Not only is he a bad man, he seems to work for the devil, literally. Somehow, and this isn’t shown on screen, Lake became a thief for Soames, and then decides not to do it anymore, for some reason. As a result, Lake is on the run from Soames, but a magical white horse shows up and helps him get a way, and I am not kidding.
Before Lake gallops off to who knows, he burglarizes a home where there is a young woman who is coincidentally dying of consumption. Her name is Beverly Penn, played by Jessica Brown Findlay, and he falls for her, for some reason. Oh, I guess this is a love story.
Anyway, Soames somehow catches up to Lake because all of the pretty stones he has reveals his location. No explanation for that one. Eventually, this leads to Russell Crowe, on horseback, chasing the two lovers, who are riding a white horse. Yes, this is romanticized drama, and the horse evades them by flying away with these magical wings. I can’t decide if that is completely awesome or utterly stupid, so I’m going to go middle of the road here.
In case you are wondering why Pearly Soames doesn’t follow Peter, well, Pearly apparently can’t leave the area that he..haunts? Well, Pearly goes to see “The Judge”, who is really the devil, played by…Will Smith? Whoa, how’d did he get in this movie? There is this terrible scene where Will shows that he has shark teeth, and this is a worse stain on his record since After Earth. Apparently, Pearly can’t leave his area that he is a demon of, this is assuming that he is a demon. This isn’t really established but apparently, Soames is some kind of supernatural force, which isn’t well-established, and probably should be.
After the chase scene, the film goes full-on romance. I won’t tell you how it ends, but I can tell that there is stuff about immortality and reincarnation, maybe. There is some kind of voiceover at the beginning and ending that I think was supposed to bookend this film, but I don’t know if that is wise.
I think this film was trying to really discuss how the power of love is greater than death, and how our lives are precious, but the theme, although feels good, isn’t kind of a mixed bag of goodness. In short, I can’t recommend Winter’s Tale because it just isn’t good, but I’m not certain what went bad with it.