For Valentine’s Day weekend you have to expect love stories to hit theaters… but this is nothing like what I expected!
First of all, I was an English major in college and Shakespeare was my “focal author”… and The Winter’s Tale was — IS — my favorite play by the bard… I just knew this was going to be a modern day telling of the great play. But … no.
THIS Winter’s Tale is based on the 1983 best-selling novel by Mark Helprin. It’s an attempt at a sort of grown up fairy tale by first-time director Akiva Goldsman. We know Goldsman from his Oscar-winning screenwriting of A Beautiful Mind… And he recruited some of the stars from that film to flesh out this movie. Russel Crowe is Pearly — a hard-nosed demon and former boss of Peter Lake (Colin Ferrel).
Peter Lake was an orphan in 1895 who had to fend for himself, eventually learning to steal like a pro. Pearly takes him under his wing… his demonic wing at that. Soon enough Peter decides to go his own way — that the dark side wasn’t for him. That’s when he decides — against his better judgement and at the urging of a random flying white horse — to rob one more house and get out of new york…. but– he runs in to this lady…
Peter falls hard… He just wants to be with Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay of Downton Abbey fame). Her father (William Hurt) has his doubts, but soon puts his trust in him. Peter and Beverly have one magical night and it’s over. But the romance is VERY short-lived.
Pearly is still gunning for Peter. Despite Pearly’s attempt to kill him, Peter apparently can’t die until he gives his miracle to someone. What? Pearly even appeals to LUCIFER himself for help — an unbilled Will Smith! Will Smith playing the devil (and quite badly at that).
Soon enough Peter — back here in 2014 and still unaware of his history or even his name — (for a hundred years?) — finds a journalist (Jennifer Connolly) who helps him find himself again… and the purpose of his miracle.
I have no idea what just happened. I have to believe the book, which I haven’t read, is beautifully written, and the movie can hold no comparison. It was barely watchable. The acting was mostly dreadful. Crowe, Smith, Hurt, are all wobbly and unbelieveable at times. Colin Ferrel does an okay job with the magical not understanding and I was even moved to tears in a couple of scenes that he clearly felt to his core as he acted them… But the story! I just felt like it was UNbelievable… in a ridiculous kind of way. Disappointed from Les Miserable to this, I beg you… Russell Crowe… please be good in the upcoming NOAH.
TWO OUT OF FIVE COOKIES
Rated PG-13 for violence and some sensuality