Just to clear up any misconceptions, this movie has nothing to do with the play by William Shakespeare. Instead, it is a screen adaptation of Mark Helprin’s book “Winter’s Tale” — an adaptation that sadly did not make a graceful switch from the page to the screen.
The story of “Winter’s Tale” exists in a world that is wrapped in a struggle between the forces of good and evil. The forces of good have granted each human one miracle that they are allowed to give while the forces of evil work to thwart them.
The acting in “Winter’s Tale” is enjoyable. Colin Farrell stars as Peter Lake, who has grown up on the rough side of Brooklyn in the early 1900s. Though a hopeless romantic, is a nuanced and well-acted character who is interesting to watch throughout the movie.
Russell Crowe also appears in this film as Pearly Soames, the demon-warden of New York, who enlists Lake at a young age to join his crime syndicate. Surprisingly, Crowe shines in this film despite taking a role lacking in depth. Viewers never learn much history about the forces that are locked in the epic struggle for control of the world. Despite this, Crowe manages to craft a multi-dimensional character with very little screen time or exposition to work with.
The dramatic stimulus of the film is that Lake quits Soames’ employment and is forced to run from Soames’ vengeance. As Lake is leaving the city, he crosses paths with a terminally ill woman named Beverly Penn, and they fall madly in love.
Penn is played by Jessica Brown Finlay. Although Brown Finlay does a good job of making Penn an empathetic character, the part isn’t written well. We aren’t given much time to get to know her. Although her illness forces the relationship between Penn and Lake to be crunched for time, most of the relationship the audience is privy to takes place over a few days. It doesn’t allow for much time to get to know the characters.
The largest problem the film has is the sheer magnitude of material it attempts to cover. Lake is given the ability to live until he is able to use the miracle he was intended to give to another. This takes him more than 100 years. That means that about halfway through the movie, viewers are introduced to a whole new set of characters and then given even less time to identify with them than we are given to watch Lake and Penn fall in love.
The true problem with “Winter’s Tale” is that it tried to cover as much ground as a novel and did not take the time necessary to solidify the relationships of the characters. This made for a fairly shallow film that lacked the proper development to make the audience care about the story.
RATING: 2.5 STARS