Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Romantic ‘Winter’sTale’

If the title conjures up Shakespearean lords and ladies on stage, then stop right there! ‘Winter’s Tale’ is the 2014 movie directed by Akiva Goldsman and based on 1983 novel of the same name by Mark Helprin. The fantasy romance stars Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Jennifer Connelly, and Russell Crowe.

Love is a miracle

In 1916 Peter Lake (Farrell) is a thief who recently fell out with his mob boss Pearly Soames (Crowe) and now trying to escape New York. As a demon, Soames is trying to stop individuals from using the “miracle” they are born with, and he suspects Peter will use his one on the red headed girl he is in love with, because Beverly is dying of consumption. To prevent him, Soames poisons her and Peter is unable to use his “miracle” to save her. A fight with Soames makes Peter fall into a river and he is believed dead.

In 2014, Peter is still alive, physically unchanged but without any memory. Beverly’s love for Peter made him her “miracle”, allowing him to remain frozen in time till he performs his “miracle”. A chance meeting with a little girl, Abby, in the park bring back fragments of memory. Her mother Virginia helps Peter research at the library and they find old photos that bring back his memory completely. At dinner that night, Peter is startled to find that Abby has red hair and that she too is dying (of cancer). Realizing that his “miracle” was meant for Abby, he takes Virginia and Abby to where Beverly died but is confronted by Soames. They fight and Peter wins, just in time to use his “miracle” to save Abby from her last seizure. She is completely cured and Peter leaves Earth on a flying white horse, to join the stars.

Arcs of light and bad dialogue

On the good side, the movie is beautiful, possibly the most beautiful movie of 2014. The arcs of lights lancing across the room is a sight that’s not easily forgotten. The costumes and make up was perfection, making every scene look like it’s out of a picture book. The set design with its attention to period detail is fabulous, in short, Oscar nominee for best production.

Sadly however, everything else about the movie just fails. Despite the all- star cast, the acting is just a tad bit too earnest, as if the characters are trying to convince themselves of their story. When coupled with bad dialogue we’ve heard fifty times before in rom- coms, it all just goes from bad to worse. The flirty tea- drinking scene is cringe- worthy in its scripted- ness and the “What’s the best thing you’ve stolen yet?” “I’m beginning to think I haven’t stolen it yet” is too careworn in sentiment to feel sweet, as it’s meant to be.

The plot is convoluted and unbelievable. We’ve seen fantasy movies work its best magic (Harry Potter, anyone?) but the plot line in ‘Winter’s Tale’ leaves too many loop holes even for cinematic suspense. Why is baby Peter’s arrival in NY so significant? What on earth was the boiler scene? Why aren’t Peter’s mechanic skills shown more? How does body temperature drop as fast as the heart rate? Even with artistic license, some of the gaps are inexcusable.

Light and snow were major themes in the movie. While the symbolism behind light was extracted till dry, snow barely got a mention. Nor did it appear between the lines.

For a movie with ‘Winter’ in its title, it expressed very little of its potential meaning. Part of the reason was possibly that cinematography was focused too much on light while snow was ignored.

At the end of the day, ‘Winter’s Tale’ is more an emotional journey, an escapist fantasy that lets the audience forget reality for a while, believe that good always triumphs over evil and that beautiful people are so meant to be together. It’s not worth the price of a movie ticket, but a DVD or torrent should be just fine. 

Courtesy - Daily News By Asuka Randeniye