Colin Farrell as Peter Lake and Jessica Brown Findlay as Beverly Penn in Winter's Tale. (Warner Bros. Pictures)
If you take the unbelievable circumstances thrown at the characters and at you in Winter’s Tale and just roll with it, you’re guaranteed to have a good time.
Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, I Am Legend) has adapted Mark Helprin’s novel for his first foray into filmmaking and the result is just bonkers fun. It’s the story of a thief by the name of Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) who tries to escape his past involvement with the mob in Edwardian New York when a magical flying white horse appears to help him get out (just go with it).
It puts him in the path of the beautiful young redhead Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay) who is his meant to be his destiny. When the leader of the mob Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe) finds out through the light that jewels and stars catch, he decides to tear them apart because…brace yourself…he’s a demon who likes to destroy miracles. Apparently Peter is meant to save a redheaded girl from a certain death and so Pearly sets out to expedite her death.
When Peter and Beverly make it so a land that we can assume is sacred, Pearly can’t cross unless he asks his boss for permission to intervene. Turns out his superior is none other than Lucifer himself, played by Will Smith in a delightfully devious cameo. The rapport between the two is hilariously awesome and engaging. Their meeting, however, doesn’t work out as Pearly get’s denied permission. So he seeks other ways to get in the way of true love.
See the thing about this movie isn’t that it is ridiculous. There isn’t a moment where you are laughing at the people in the movie or whether they say a line that doesn’t work. It’s as if you realize that they’re in on how crazy this movie is too. Everyone relishes their role with enjoyment and so much of the dialogue is quick and witty. It’s reminiscent of the improv shows where the game master throws in fairytale elements, demons, mobsters, magical horses, and time travel and the cast just sells it with a “Why, not?” sort of attitude. Like many fables and tall tales, it just bizarrely accepts the world it exists in but still manages to tell a heartfelt love story.
The chemistry between Farrell and Brown Findlay is captivating, as they don’t play lovers who are cheesily into each other. The exchange when the two fall in love at first sight isn’t played in a romanticized over-dramatic way but is instead one of the moments in the film that really shines with the leads showing that they could be cheeky and earnest about falling in love. The sparks and attraction between the two are immediately accessible and so you root for them.
The timing and tone is impeccably done in true Farrell fashion when Beverly asks Peter, “What’s the greatest thing you’ve ever stolen?” and Peter slyly replies “I’m beginning to think I haven’t stolen it yet.” And as the movie goes on, when things do go tragic, he can tap into a dramatic performance that is moving because as the cast moves into the second act that yes takes place in the future.
Peter is separated from his true love by time and death, but it’s the fact he loved her so much that made him miraculously appear in the future to accomplish the very thing Pearly was trying to stop him from doing. Without going too much into detail, Pearly might have succeeded in separating the lovers but not from stopping Peter fulfilling his destiny.
So as he figures out what he’s meant to do in the future, Pearly prepares to take him on but as fate would have it, Peter also has help in the unbelievable conclusion to the film.
Winter’s Tale is totally worth watching if you really have to see one of the romantic movies that comes out this Valentine’s Day. It’s a magical ride with a solid cast and interestingly very entertaining.
Warner Bros. Pictures
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