Lack of love for ‘Winter’s Tale’

Lack of love for 'Winter's Tale'

Although a fantasy featuring a magical white horse sounds like a successful children’s film, first-time film director Akiva Goldsman fails to turn the classic novel for grown-ups into a film that can appeal to today’s audiences with “Winter’s Tale.”

Based on the 1983 novel by Mark Helprin, the movie features a burglar named Peter Lake (the charming Colin Farrell) who falls for a beautiful heiress, Beverly Penn (“Downtown Abbey”‘s Jessica Brown Findlay). It opens with Peter trying to escape from his crazy boss, Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe) for reasons that are never really known. Since he needs money to leave town and make his escape, he decides to break into and loot a Central Park West mansion.

The couple first meets when Peter attempts to rob Beverley’s mansion, circumstances atypical to most romance love stories. However, this romance proves to be one of the many plot lines within the movie, making it increasingly hard for moviegoers to follow. The story transports Peter from the 1890s to current times with no clear explanation as to how he got there.

Although much of the movie is confusing to audiences, the special effects transport the audience to a new world of fantasy and romance. The extravagant soirees, ornate dresses and behemoth-sized mansions make you want to jump right into the film’s fantasy land. Moviegoers will crave a magical horse as they see Peter’s pet effortlessly fly across the screen.

The love Peter and Beverly have for one another never falters throughout the course of the film. There is an immense amount of chemistry between Farrell and Findlay, allowing moviegoers to feel their pain as the characters struggle through the realization that their romance could come to an end at any moment since she only has six months left to live.

One of the most moving performances in the film comes from Eva Marie Saint, who appears in the modern-day half of the film as an important person from Peter’s past. The moment she first sees Peter she drops everything and embraces him in a huge hug, instantly warming the hearts of audience members. Saint’s appearance in the film reminds us that the 89-year-old actress can still capture our attention after all these years.

While some actors, like Saint, are right on par with their performances, others seem to be unclear on what kind of characters they are suppose to be playing. Unfortunately, notoriously known tough guy Russell Crowe falls under this category. Instead of committing to the role of the threatening villain, he makes it evident that the role does not fit his usual persona.

Another surprising appearance comes from Will Smith, who plays the demonic judge. Although he plays a minor part in the movie, it is still hard to forget the bizarre performance by the funny man, known most for being the goofy slacker on the “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”.

Suppose some of the poor performances can be credited to the lack of direction from Avika Goldsman. Known for writing movies such as “I am Legend” and “I, Robot” (Will Smith stars in both), Goldsman makes the shift into the director’s chair for the first time with “Winter’s Tale.” Goldsman had big shoes to fill with taking the beloved novel and transferring it to the big screen, as audiences came in with high expectations. The New York Times named the novel one of “the single best works of American fiction published in the last 25 years.”

With its all-star cast and well-written novel to work off of, “Winter’s Tale” seems like it would be destined for success. However, the lack of explanation throughout the film leaves audiences to wonder what is going on, and why they are watching it unfold.