Movies based on well written books are often the hardest to get right.
Movies based on well written books are often the hardest to get right; especially ones that need much in the way of backstory and character explanation. Such is the case with Winter’s Tale. The story is moving and intriguing, the characters are strong and engaging, the romance sweet. But there is a disconnect that happens when you try and do too much with not enough time to tell it all.
Set in New York in the early 1900’s the story revolves around Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), a street wise thief with an extraordinary gift. He is on the outs with a local mobster (Russell Crowe) who has put a price on Peter’s head. When Peter falls in love with a young heiress (Jessica Brown Findlay), dying of an incurable disease, he is willing to risk it all to be with her. His hope is that his gift will once again be able to give her life. It is then that the battle of good and evil, angels and demons takes over and the story takes a creative twist.
There are many fascinating layers to this story. The problem comes in that there is not enough time to flesh them all out. Even at two hours the film skims over certain character arch’s and history that you know has to be interesting; especially in relation to the angels and demons living on the streets of New York. Also Peter’s past has many unanswered questions that may not be tied to the romantic part of the story but would still be good to know.
This is a love story at heart though and that part they got right. Peter’s love for a dying woman and his desire to do everything in his power, and beyond, to save her is touching and moving. The setting of the early 1900’s gives it that period feel that works wonderfully as a romantic backdrop. Also the look and style of the film adds a fantasy element that fits well with the story. If you are looking for strictly a love story and are willing to overlook the holes and sporadic side characters then you should be fine. There are a couple of heart stirring scenes that catch you by surprise. For some these may make up for the disjointed moments.
Winter’s Tale is rated PG-13 for violence and some sensuality. It is a story that older viewers will appreciate more than teens. The violence and scary images of the demons may turn some off but it is not treated as shock value and those moments are rare. If you are looking for a nice date night film and have seen most others, then this isn’t a horrible option. I just wanted more in the time that I was given. Still, I give it 3 out of 5. The romantic angle saves it even if the rest of it leaves me wanting.
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