DVD A New York Winter’s Tale

DVD A New York Winter’s Tale
DVD A New York Winter’s Tale

Run time: 118 min
Rating: 6.2
Genres: Drama | Fantasy | Mystery
Director: Akiva Goldsman
Writers: Akiva Goldsman, Mark Helprin
Stars: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe
Storyline
New York City is subsumed in arctic winds, dark nights, and white lights, its life unfolds, for it is an extraordinary hive of the imagination, the greatest house ever built, and nothing exists that can check its vitality. One night in winter, Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), orphan and master-mechanic, attempts to rob a fortress-like mansion on the Upper West Side. Though he thinks the house is empty, the daughter of the house is home. Thus begins the love between Peter, a middle-aged Irish burglar, and Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), a young girl, who is dying. Written by Jack
Plot Keywords: magical realism, written by director, based on novel
Details:
Country: USA
Release Date: 21 February 2014 (UK)
Box Office
Budget: $60,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $8,007,059 (USA) (14 February 2014)
Gross: $12,591,660 (USA) (28 March 2014)

4 Comments

  1. First some background, I'm a guy, a shoot 'em, blow 'em up, Clint Eastwood luvin dude. I do appreciate however a good romantic story. Also, I have NOT read the book, heck, never even heard of it until now.

    So that said, here is my take. The haters seem to fall into three major categories.

    First, there are the "loved the book, hate the movie" types. Since I never read the book, I can't speak to this, other than to say, "Sorry, it's not the book, it's a movie". I always tell my kids that the medium of film is radically different than that of pulp and what "works" in one doesn't necessarily work in the other. Given that, one should go into a movie with an open mind, even if you've read the book.

    Second, there are the "I never read the book, the movie didn't make sense". Now that I can talk to. I never did find myself all that confused. I think falls in large part to the fact that I never assumed the movie was supposed to be based on reality. I mean come on, given the rather obviously "fantastic" aspects of the story, it's not meant to be taken seriously. You're given an overarching concept (basically the power of love to do amazing things) and if you buy in, then the particulars are not really all that important. If you can't get beyond that, or simply don't buy into the central conceit, then you won't like the movie because it rides that wave for all it's worth.

    Third are the folks who thought the movie was too schmaltzy. Now that I would at least partially agree with. That said, again, the movie doesn't try to hide the fact that it wears it's heart on it's sleeve. It's fair that if one does not go for that kind of thing, then you won't like this film.

    All that said, I thought it was a "good" romantic film. My personal criticisms fall mainly on the somewhat wooden acting and the overall lack of "feel". That's right, despite all I said above there was just something about the film that just never really drew me into the characters. For some reason I never really felt truly emotionally invested in the characters. I didn't hate them, I did care, just not nearly as much as I thought I should. I also thought some of the acting was a bit forced and this might have contributed to not being able to lose myself in the characters. Almost like the actors did a good job of "acting" like the characters but never quite crossed into "being" the characters.

    So if you're willing to accept the movie for what it is, an unabashedly romantic film that weaves religion as an integral part of the story, then I think that you will enjoy the film. It's not perfect by any sense of the imagination, but IMHO it's not nearly as bad as some folks are making it out to be.

  2. Directors making their feature-film debuts don't typically have their pick of Hollywood's finest (and busiest) stars – unless they're Akiva Goldsman, that is. For his fantastical romance epic Winter's Tale, the Oscar-winning screenwriter has corralled the likes of Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Colin Farrell and Eva Marie Saint: an accomplished cast that would make many a more seasoned director envious. The trouble is that Winter's Tale never really comes together as Goldsman clearly wants it to: the writing is smart and occasionally very good, but the film flounders when it should soar, losing rather than gathering pace and tension as it goes on.

    The story – based on Mark Helprin's ponderous 1983 novel – follows petty thief Peter Lake (Farrell) from the early 1900s through to the present day. In 1916, Peter is suddenly declared persona non grata by Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), his frankly insane, literally demonic Irish thug of a mentor. While on the run, Peter encounters a mysterious white horse that points him in the direction of the Penn mansion. Initially looking to steal himself something nice, Peter sets aside all thoughts of pilfering treasure from the Penns when he meets and swiftly falls in love with Beverly (Downton Abbey's Jessica Brown Findlay), the beautiful, flame-haired mistress of the house who is slowly being eaten alive by consumption.

    It's all very romantic, or so we're told, with a supernatural element folded into the love story: Pearly becomes convinced that Peter is destined to save a girl with titian hair, an action that would upset the teetering balance between good and evil. Indeed, Peter's burning love winds up keeping him alive for over a century, until he meets single mom/super-journalist Virginia (Jennifer Connelly) and her daughter in modern-day Manhattan. It soon becomes clear that fate, destiny and a whole lot of mystical mumbo-jumbo are at work here, and Peter will soon discover the healing and restorative powers of love itself.

    To be fair, Winter's Tale is built upon a raft of quite interesting ideas. It hints at, rather than belabours, the notion of good and evil taking physical form: Pearly lurks through Manhattan, a gangster by trade and a demon by nature. When he decides to confront Peter for good and for ever, he's forced to fight on equal, mortal terms. It's a fantasy universe absolutely begging to be expanded, a fiction that could be real and is all the more tantalising for it.

    But Goldsman, in juggling the various elements of his story, lets the opportunity slip him by, instead focusing on the love story in almost excruciating detail – even though he never really creates a connection between Peter and Beverly that rings true. Peter teaches Beverly how to escape her all-consuming fever by slowing her heart down, Beverly explains to Peter how she believes people rise to the stars to find their loved ones when they die – it's all intensely romantic, but hardly emotional. The film then flings a few more tropes and complications into the mix (Peter loses his memory, Peter winds up travelling through the future into our present, love will conquer all etc.), without really stopping to explain just how it all hangs together.

    At least Goldsman has pulled together a cast worth watching, even when the film he's constructed around them isn't quite worth their salt. Farrell broods prettily in his boy-band haircut, clearly too old for the part but nonetheless playing it with great gusto. Paying Goldsman back for A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man, Crowe marches through the silliness of his raging, bonkers character with strange amounts of joy. Pearly is easily the film's best character, unless you count the one played by another of Goldsman's Facebook friends (no spoilers, but this movie star is no doubt grateful to Goldman for a script that earned him bucketfuls of acting cred many years ago).

    Swimming somewhere in the reams of quite lovely footage assembled by Goldsman and his cinematographer Caleb Deschanel, there's a great movie with great ideas. Once in a while, it bursts through – in the shadowy, dank dungeon of a demon's lair, ruled by Lucifer himself; or the snow- swept sparkle of a moonlit night – but, more often than not, it turns into Winter's Tale: an emotionally distant romantic drama that goes for lush, sweeping depth but comes up curiously cold and myopic.

  3. This movie is a breath of fresh air. That being said, you have to go into it expecting and understanding it is from the genre of "Magic Realism".

    I actually read the entire book by Mark Helprin, unlike most of the professional critics, so I knew what type of movie it was going to be and I had appropriate expectations. The book was around 700 pages and it wasn't a Harry Potter-type 700 pages. The novel is a very complex, wordy, difficult to read and oftentimes very confusing piece of work, jam packed with very descriptive imagery. I found myself reading parts over and over to gain an understanding of it that I still wasn't completely secure with when I was finished. In fact, most people I know have ATTEMPTED READING it, and end up abandoning the book because of the reasons I just mentioned. After I finished the book, I scoured the internet trying to find any reviews of the book to help me understand and see if I "really got it". To my frustration, you really can't find any complete reviews of the book because I'm pretty sure most people (like me) had a lot of confusion with the story as well!

    In most of the reviews I read, people are ripping Akiva Goldsman apart saying his adaptation is awful, but I strongly disagree. He had to leave out some of the aspects of the book in the interest of time (For example, a whole storyline of characters from the middle of the book are missing from the film.) He kept the really important parts of the novel and successfully makes them stand on their own.

    Leaving the theater, I feel like Goldsman's interpretation ACTUALLY CLARIFIED a lot of the book for me. Incidentally, I went to see the film with someone who had NOT read the book and knew nothing about it, and he thought it was way better that the reviews said as well. As a matter of fact, I definitely liked Goldsman's ending better than Helprin's! I finished the book with the feeling of "What? That's it??? Is my book missing pages?" The movie version is the way I wanted the book to end.

    Additionally, Helprin's wordy descriptions played out in my minds eye of the beautiful (and the not-so-beautiful) aspects of the story were brought clearly to life in the movie with the expertly executed "tug-on-your-heartstrings" musical score and cinematography.

    So, if you're looking for a curse-them-out, shoot-em-up, or futuristic outer space, or reality-based movie, Winter's Tale would be better rented on DVD. If you're looking for a more philosophical, romantic, thought-provoking fantasy as an escape from most of the usual movies in theaters today, it's worth the ticket price.

  4. As the reviews indicate either you'll love it or hate it. I loved it, my wife hated it. Quite a turnaround considering I wanted to see Robocop, but it was her turn to pick. Slow and confusing in the beginning but picked up speed after the first encounter of Peter and Beverly. The Characters were immediately likable and the two child actresses were captivating. Russell Crowe was great as Demi-Demon Pearly Soames. The visuals were terrific. It kind of made me think of Titanic with Demons, Angels and even a Pegasus replacing the Boat. All under the winter NYC backdrop. Pay attention to the dialogue because there were several of those "oh wow – that's what that meant" moments later on.

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