It’s a tale that runs throughout the ages—literally, as Winter’s Tale jumps through time in confusing spurts.
The film tries to find its heart through overly rich narration, “magical” storytelling, and weird lighting. But it lacks the heart and sweetness promised by the previews.
Winter’s Tale, directed by Akiva Goldsman, is the story of Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), a thief who was abandoned as a child by his immigrant parents.
Lake is constantly on the run from—get this—demons, the head of whom is his nemesis, Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe). Along the way, he meets Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), a red-headed beauty who wins Lake’s entire heart in just a matter of minutes.
Lake somehow becomes destined to perform a miracle for a mysterious red-head featured in a drawing made by the demon Soames’s blood. It’s basically a scribble that everyone else accepts as fact without question.
This scribble must mean Miss Penn, correct? It’s easy to see where the movie is going. Just add in more supernatural elements that make no sense and a surprise appearance by Will Smith as a laughable Lucifer, and you have yourself Winter’s Tale.
Moviegoers may expect to find themselves whisked away into romance and the supernatural, but instead have to settle for an ordinary world with awkward and out-of-place moments of mysticism.
For starters, Farrell’s character Peter Lake begins the movie in the present day. The audience will suddenly find itself thrown into the past as Lake runs from a group of suited men and somehow happens across a horse that can fly over tall iron gates for a quick getaway.
And then, the demons and miracles and Lucifer get thrown in with little to no explanation. Winter’s Tale tries so hard to make itself magical and supernatural that it forgets to relate to the audience entirely and, therefore, misses its mark.
For a movie with so many big name actors, Winter’s Tale gives none of them the chance to take the story to where it needed to be. The writing falls flat and borders on sappy in some places, then becomes downright ridiculous in others.
Winter’s Tale does deserve credit where it’s due. The second half of the movie is, by far, better than the first half. Audience members can finally begin to connect to the characters as the story builds.
But the overall picture of the movie does not add up to expectations of a moving romance or a thrilling supernatural film.