Winter’s Tale
PG-13
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: -2

Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Lucy Griffiths, Russell Crowe, William Hurt, Mckayla Twiggs, Eva Marie Saint, Will Smith. Romantic action fantasy. Written & directed by Akiva Goldsman.

FILM SYNOPSIS:. The picture opens with Colin Farrell meandering through NY City, coiffed in Jesus hair and a dour look upon his face, playing an amnesiac time-traveler named Peter Lake. Suddenly we’re back in time and Colin/Peter has a different hairstyle (the weirdest haircut I ever saw outside a Mad Max movie) and he’s outrunning a gang of two-by-four-wielding thugs meant to do him harm. Suddenly, a white horse appears to carry him away. A magical white horse. A magical white horse with big white angelic wings. Before we can ask ourselves if this is a sci-fi fantasy, we’re suddenly further back in time, seeing baby Peter’s immigrant parents being denied entrance to America because the father is sick. Determined to see their child gets a better life in the Promised Land, the parents set their baby in a baby boat and put him at sea to be found (hopefully) by a kind soul on Ellis Island. (It’s kind of a Moses thing.)

Moving ahead, we see a grown Peter hiding out in a train station clock tower (shades of Hugo - which, by the way, is going to be a DVD alternative once we muddle through my interpretation of the perplexing plot).

Little side note before we press on: I missed the critics’ screening due to snow and, although it was getting bad notices, I trudged down to the local mall opening day and purchased a ticket (something I haven’t had to do in ten years). Man, it was cold that day, so I sat drinking coffee (which cost nearly as much as the entrance ticket) in an attempt to stay warm, waiting along with two other patrons for the endless parade of coming attractions to end and the movie to begin. I was cold the rest of the day and 10 bucks poorer – all for you! Once we’re through here, I think you’ll all agree, you owe me big time!!

Turns out, Peter has become a thief in order to survive. I guess he has a conscience, although he does carry a gun and evidently is willing to use it should victims complain about him burgling their home.

He’s also still being chased by that two-by-four wielding crowd, headed by the villainous Pearly Soames (bull-like and ham-fisted Russell Crowe), who just so happens to be a demon working for Lucifer (Will Smith in two unintentionally laughable scenes). The white horse, imaginatively named Horse, aids and abets Peter in his thievery and leads him to a mansion where the thief finds a cutie dying with consumption (tuberculosis). Though dying with an ever-present fever, she’s about as healthy looking as a model/actress can be.

He decides not to rob her house, so she makes him tea. (Not only lovely, she’s terribly civilized.) Well, we wouldn’t have much a movie if he didn’t fall for her. So he instantly does. He comes to believe he’s meant to somehow save her. Reincarnation is involved and Peter lives on through an entire century, retaining his youth, but now with the Jesus haircut. Oh, and the demonic Pearly has followed Peter through the ages, maybe to satisfy moviegoers not so satisfied with a romance between a thief and a consumptive.

To keep the synopsis somewhat succinct, I’m skipping some storyline details. Trust me, there’s no need to mention them. Suffice it to say, further into the future Peter discovers his pretty consumptive wasn’t the one he was placed on Earth to save – but rather her great-niece.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Meant to be whimsical, profound, romantic and adventurous, it comes down to individual opinion as to the success of each of the filmmaker’s endeavors, but there is one area I am willing to bloviate about – its spiritual element, which is less than biblical, and more off-putting than insightful.

The fantasy consists of a universal spiritual force more akin to Mount Olympus dealings with mankind than biblical ones. And while such mysticism has been employed to further a profundity in films such as The Enchanted Cottage, Enchanted April and Field of Dreams, to name a few, here its “spiritual” elements are a mishmash of mythological ideals resulting in separated lovers reunited in death as, get this, stars nestled side-by-side in the firmament.

It seems the more the filmmatic misfire, the more keyboard time is taken up by those of us paid to examine it. Hence this extended review. My conclusion is that it is not an awful film. The chemistry works between Peter and his comely consumptive and it’s nice to see Eva Marie Saint back on the screen (even in a brief appearance), but there are so many films that deal more engagingly with each and every element Winter’s Tale tries to encompass. Rather than scintillating romance or exciting adventure, Winter’s Tale leaves viewers with melodrama overexposure and tired of Winter.

DVD Alternatives:

Hugo

Tree of Life

War Horse

Enchanted April - A delightful fable about four women in 1920s London escaping inattentive husbands and repressed lifestyles by renting a castle in Portofino. There they discover the estate has a magical effect on all sojourners. Witty dialogue, dreamy cinematography, and savory performances from Joan Plowright, Polly Walker and the rest of the cast.

The Enchanted Cottage. Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire star in this heartwarming fantasy about a scarred war vet and a homely woman, both made beautiful by their love. Very romantic film.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir - A gothic romance without promiscuity or profanity, starring Rex Harrison, Gene Tierney and George Sanders. The serene love affair is difficult to resist. It contains, you should excuse the expression, a “haunting” score by Bernard Herrmann. The DVD contains two insightful and interesting commentary tracks, and other bonuses.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Warner Bros.

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: A couple of minor expletives and two obscenities.
Profanity: One profane use of God’s Name.
Violence: Some shooting and killing, mostly by a villain who when angered takes on the features of a demon.
Sexual Intercourse: One sexual situation, the sequence is brief and not graphic
Nudity: The camera discreetly reveals a woman undressing.
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Very brief drinking.
Other: A woman dies.
Running Time: 118 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Up

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