Winter’s Tale is based on Mark Helprin’s 1983 fantastical romantic novel and adapted by Oscar-winning screenwriter-turned-director Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind).
In 1895, when a Russian immigrant couple (Matt Bomer and Lucy Griffiths) are forced to return to Europe due to illness, they set their son adrift in a model ship into the New York Harbor. Several years later, we find that baby has become a thief named Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) who is on the run from the leader of Brooklyn’s Short Tail gang, Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe) who also happens to be a demon and works for Satan.
After a mysterious white flying horse appears and rescues him from Soames, Lake decides to flee New York but not before he breaks into a Central Park estate where he encounters a beautiful young woman with consumption named Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay, from PBS’s Downton Abbey). It is love at first sight and an ill-fated romance.
The extended flashback of the first half of the film is much better than the last half which finds an ageless Peter Lake in present day New York suffering from amnesia and drawing chalk art on the sidewalks where he bumps into Virginia Gamely who helps him find his way.
The film may have failed at portraying the logic of the realities of destiny and magic, but it does achieve a watchable romance between Farrell and Findlay Brown. Not explained or maybe I missed it, but I’m not sure if Farrell ever really knew that his former boss was a demon working for Satan.
Other notable cast members are Jennifer Connelly, William Hurt, and Eva Marie Saint. Also, with the worse cameo of his career, is Will Smith as the Jimi Hendrix t-shirt wearing Satan.
This sappy and confusing Valentine’s Day release love story will not make a good date movie and fans of the book will be disappointed.