It’s almost Valentine’s Day, which means it’s time to roll out the mushy movies - and they don’t get mushier than ‘Winter’s Tale’, based on the 1983 novel by Mark Helprin, not the Shakespeare play.
In the winter of 1916, skilled burglar Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) is on the run from Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), a man who runs the city of Manhattan with the help of his merry men. After escaping the gang thanks to a mysterious white horse, Peter finds himself preparing to flee the city when he’s drawn to a particular house. Believing it’s empty, he begins his ransack when he runs into Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), a beautiful redhead dying of consumption, who spends her nights sleeping in a tent on the roof to stave off the fever. Peter falls for her instantly, with all his heart, even saving her from Pearly when he learns of their connection. But it turns out that falling in love was the easy part, and only just the beginning. Spanning time and space, this tale is one of miracles, all-powerful love and the never-ending battle between good and evil, heaven and hell.
As much as you want to believe in this story, there is just no finesse to it at all. The dialogue and scenes jump about raggedly. The first 30 minutes are frustratingly vague (especially if you’re unfamiliar with the source text) that when the “reveal” is finally made, it isn't worth the wait and, quite frankly, comes off as ridiculous. The second act is no better, slapped together so haphazardly it has more holes than a slice of swiss cheese.
Russell Crowe once again attempts an accent he has no business attempting. Not only is his “best” Irish deeply flawed but partnered next to an actual Irishman, it’s just downright embarrassing. Farrell’s talent and charisma do nothing to disguise his ridiculous and distracting haircut, nor does it stop you from constantly pondering why an orphan raised in New York even has an Irish accent. Brown Findlay is a delightful breath of fresh air, but just not enough to save the erratic story.
There is just no finesse to it at all.
If you’re looking for your heartstrings to be pulled this Valentine’s Day, unfortunately this isn't the place to turn. Best to spend the money on a nice box of chocolates and let your imagination run wild instead.