“Winter’s Tale” tries so hard to be a film that moves beyond mere romance — it contains hints of magical realism, New York gangsters, fantasy, Heaven vs. Hell and a heavy sense of fate and destiny. Unfortunately this Akiva Goldsman film fails, at least somewhat, in all of those aspects.
The film follows Peter Lake (Colin Ferrell), an orphan who has been raised by Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe) in turn-of-the-century New York City. Pearly and his gang taught Peter everything he knows, namely how to steal in order to survive.
On his last raid before leaving the city to escape Pearly’s wrath, Peter meets Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay)and they instantly fall in love. Beverly is dying of consumption, but her associations with heat and light give her a transcendent quality that draws Peter in.
This is the point when “Winter’s Tale” transforms from a budding romantic tragedy to a giant question mark as the director tries to fit four films into one.
Turns out Pearly is not just a gangster; he’s a demon that makes deals with angels and answers to one man only: Lucifer, played by none other than Will Smith who sports two earrings and a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt in 1916. The only thing that saves mortal Peter over and over is his white-stallion-slash-guardian-angel that flies.
Eventually, Peter is destined to live forever, finally reaching 2014 New York, feeling lost without the memory of his beloved Beverly. Virginia, a bit part played randomly by Jennifer Connelly, helps Peter remember his past and the reason he stayed alive all these years.
The rookie special effects made this movie into a joke, but not even brilliant CGI could’ve made this story any less bewildering to an audience that expected a simple love story.
— Lizzie Goodell
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