Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Winter's Tale

I do not own the above image.  Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

            There are times where a movie plays in front of me and my body does stuff that it normally doesn't do at the movies.  Sometimes my mouth goes agape, amazed at what I’m seeing.  Others I shift violently repeatedly in my seat, through fits of unease or boredom.  And every once in a while, I have the urge to stand up & leave, only to realize I have a public service to tell you whether to see a movie or not.  WINTER’S TALE performed the trifecta.
            In 1916, orphan Peter Lake (Farrell) has pissed off his boss Pearly Soames (Crowe) for the final time.  A professional thief, Lake goes off on his own, with a mysterious white horse as his companion.  On one of his first jobs, he discovers & falls for Beverly Penn (Brown Findlay), the older daughter of a widowed newspaper publisher.  Beverly is dying of tuberculosis and can’t physically love anyone.  Will the two star-crossed lovers be able to consummate their new found love? Will Soames find & end Peter’s life first? 
            Sounds like a straight forward story, right?  Too bad the marketing campaign is deceitful.  That mysterious horse?  It can fly and might be some sort Native American spirit.  Mafioso Pearly Soames?  He’s a demon whose job is to stop people’s miracles from occurring.  The first scene of the movie?  Peter Lake walking into modern-day Grand Central Station.
            Based on Mark Helprin’s novel and adapted to the screen by Akiva Goldsman, WINTER’S TALE is, to put it simply, a mess.  Right out of the gate, it makes no sense.  If you are going to place mythical creatures or fantastical elements in a real world setting, you need to have a coherent set of rules.  WINTER’S TALE neither has a set of rules nor is it coherent.  Crowe’s Pearly Soames’ mythology is particularly confusing.  He’s a demon yet he runs a crime syndicate.  Was he once human?  If he wasn’t, do his lackeys know?  Are they demons too?  He’s Peter’s boss.  How long have they worked together, considering Peter is supposed to be 21?  What pissed Soames off?  The movie takes place in 1916 NYC.  Do normal folks know of their existence?  Do they live in fear of their hopes & dreams coming true if it means possibly being confronted by Soames and his ilk?
            Similar questions arise throughout the secret, 45 minute third act that is not alluded to in any of the marketing.  Lake is still alive in modern-day New York, still waiting for a miracle to happen.  I won’t spoil it, but a few moments answer questions while still adding a few more.
            WINTER’S TALE looks gorgeous at times.  The $46 million budget had to go somewhere I guess.  The only thrilling & interesting moment takes place in the dark with a superstar cameo that needs to be seen to be believed. 
WINTER’S TALE reminded me of a failed cable television pilot extended to a full feature.  It reminds us once again that, yes, Goldsman is responsible for the screenplays to LOST IN SPACE and BATMAN & ROBIN.  During the end credits, my wife told me it reminded her of an episode of Supernatural.  Well, that explains a lot!


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