By Sandra Kraisirideja
“Winter’s Tale” is a love story that tries to tackle too many themes, which all get in the way of each other, creating a disjointed movie that never really comes together.
Writer-director Akiva Goldsman, who won an Oscar for Best Screenplay in 2002 for “A Beautiful Mind,” based his script for “Winter’s Tale” on the novel of the same name by Mark Helprin.
Goldsman, who has directed for television, makes his feature film debut as a director with “Winter’s Tale.” He does an adequate job behind the camera. The movie doesn’t feel like it was directed by somebody needing to do more than is necessary just to prove themselves.
If anything it seems the writer side of Goldsman was far too ambitious, attempting to capture all of the novel’s broad themes in one movie.
First off is the love story between Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) and Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), two people that destiny or fate has brought together. Second is the battle between good and evil, with the good represented by the two lovers while evil is portrayed quite well by Russell Crowe.
This battle between good and evil is not just a metaphor. There are supernatural elements to this story, with demons and winged horses, which is where things start to slide off the rails,
Lastly there is the concept of miracles and the power of hope, which is one of the film’s finer points. It also tries to make the case that we are all here for a reason, even if we don’t understand exactly why.
Like I said in the beginning, there is a lot going on in this movie. Emotionally it also sways back and forth between melodrama and light-hearted comedy.
Perhaps what saves it from being simply awful is the stellar cast, and there quite a few Oscar winners here, including Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and William Hurt. It’s a testament to Goldsman and Crowe that they were able to attract such great talent to the movie, even if the roles are not that big.
In terms of chemistry, Farrell and Findlay are believable as a young couple desperately in love. It helps that Findlay, best known for her role in “Downton Abbey,” looks at home in early 20th century finery and that the setting of “Winter’s Tale” mirrors the time frame of the PBS hit.
Without spoiling things, there is one bit of casting that while surprising, only adds to the confusion of what the movie is supposed to be. The actor is best known for action and comedy, so it’s unusual to see him in this movie, especially in the role that he’s given.