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Winter's Tale Review


Grim

The fact that this magical romance has been retitled A New York Winter's Tale in the UK tells you what the filmmakers think of the audience: we can't be trusted to get anything on our own. Writer-director Akiva Goldsman lays everything on so thickly that there's nothing left for us to discover here. And he botches the tone by constantly shifting between whimsical fantasy and brutal violence. Sure, the manipulative filmmaking does create some emotional moments, but inadvertent giggles are more likely.

It's mainly set in 1916, where young orphan Peter (Farrell) is running from his relentlessly nasty former boss Pearly (Crowe), a gangster angry that Peter isn't as vicious as he is. Then Peter finds a mystical white horse that miraculously rescues him and leads him to the dying socialite Beverly (Brown Findlay). As they fall deeply in love, Peter believes he can create a miracle to save Beverly from the end stages of consumption. And Pearly is determined to stop him. But nearly a century later, Peter is still wandering around Manhattan in a daze, trying to figure out who he is and why he's still there. He gets assistance from a journalist (Connelly), who helps him make sense of his true destiny.

Yes, this is essentially a modern-day fairy tale packed with supernatural touches. But Goldsman never quite figures out what the centre of the story is, losing the strands of both the epic romance and the intensely violent vengeance thriller. Meanwhile, he condescends to the audience at every turn, deploying overwrought camera whooshing, frilly costumes, dense sets and swirly effects while a violin-intensive musical score tells us whether each a scene should be wondrous or scary. At the centre of this, Farrell somehow manages to hold his character together engagingly, even convincing us that Peter is around 25 years old (Farrell's actually 38).

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Winter's Tale Trailer


Peter Lake is a wanted burglar in a desperate struggle to escape an old gangster boss of his, Pearly Soames, in the cruel world that is 1916. One day, he breaks into a dazzling mansion that he thinks is empty, but then discovers the owner's beautiful daughter Beverly Penn at her piano who appears unafraid of him. Struck by her beauty, he embarks on a whirlwind romance with her that is marred when Peter discovers that she is dying of consumption. That's not the only thing Peter has to contend with as Soames repeatedly tries to kill him, but to no avail as Athansor, a white horse and guardian angel, is always there to save him. During one of those rescue feats, Peter finds himself in modern day Manhattan without a clue who he is and with no signs of aging. Determined to use this to his advantage, he sets out to save the one person he still remembers.

This heart-breaking fantasy romance is based on the novel of the same name by Mark Helprin and has been adapted to screen by Oscar winning director and writer Akiva Goldsman ('Batman Forever', 'I Am Legend', 'The Da Vinci Code'). Not to be confused with the Shakespearian play of a similar name, 'Winter's Tale' is a tremendous story of reincarnation and eternal love and will released in UK cinemas on February 21st 2014.

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