Stone Cold Romance – A review of Winter’s Tale
Title: Winter’s Tale
Production Company: Warner Brothers
Run Time: 118 minutes
Director: Akiva Goldsman
Stars: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, William Hurt, Jennifer Connelly
Summary: This is not your average romance movie. Set over the course of a century, the star-crossed lovers in this tale are interwoven with a supernatural element that threatens to destroy their love and our future
I was intrigued when I saw the previews for this movie. In many ways, it reminded me of another romance with temporal elements, the Christopher Reeve/Jane Seymour vehicle Somewhere in Time from 1980.
There, though, the similarities end. While Somewhere In Time was a romance that straddled the centuries, Winter’s Tale has a decidedly more supernatural element that serves as an undercurrent throughout the movie.
Colin Farrell plays Peter Lake, a notorious thief from the city of New York who is recruited into the ranks of the mob led by Burly Soames (Russell Crowe). This is not an affiliation from which one can easily wean himself away.
But Lake evidently has a guardian angel that will aid him in his escape from Soames and it will lead him to an adventure that he won’t expect.
In an effort to escape the city, Lake decides to rob a few estates and use the proceeds to get of town for a while. While robbing one such place, he discovers that it isn’t quite entirely unoccupied.
He meets Beverly, a young woman of breeding who is dying of consumption. Her fever is such that she lives in a tent on the roof of her home in order to regulate her temperature to something resembling normalcy which will stave off her death for at least a short time.
Peter is instantly attracted to her flowing red locks of hair, believing that she is part of a vision that he has had for some time. Despite the obvious short lived potential for their relationship, he elects to stay with her and see where the future may take them.
While this first part of the story takes place in 1920’s depression era New York, the latter half of the movie brings the main characters forward into the present day 21st century Big Apple. Here, Lake meets a newspaper columnist who helps him piece together memories of his past life and love.
The joining thread of his life appears to hinge on a newspaper which was originally owned by Beverly’s father and now is published under the auspices of Beverly’s younger sister Willa who is also still alive in the present day, but based on the math, must be an extraordinarily old woman.
But since this is a story about the supernatural, we won’t question this logic here. In the same manner that we won’t question how Lake and Soames have both managed to survive into the present day without any inkling that either man has aged.
What builds intrigue here is each man’s apparent tie with the sides of good and evil. Lake apparently has an angel on his shoulder while Soames is evidently in league with the devil who makes his own appearance in an unexpected cameo which I will not reveal here.
This is one of those extraordinarily beautiful tales that we don’t often see in the movies today. It will inspire one to accept that there may be miracles in life that we can’t know or understand until they come to fruition.
The underlying story here is one of hope and the acceptance that perhaps we don’t know everything that we think we do.
Farrell brings a lightness of spirit to Peter Lake that gels well with his two major relationships. With Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay) he can be soft and gentle as a breeze, believing in the immortality of a love that both know cannot last given the present circumstances.
Yet with Soames, Farrell shows a different side of his personality that won’t be cowered or consumed by the other man’s ties with the dark and sinister evil elements that Soames hopes will overcome the human world.
Jennifer Connelly is underutilized as Virginia, the columnist who has her own crosses to bear. Her daughter Abby is dying of cancer and will become a pivotal part of the latter half of this beautiful story.
This is the type of heartwarming cinema that I wish Hollywood would make more of. These are movies that elevate the human condition rather than serve to dumb it down like most of Hollywood’s drivel today.
But sadly, most moviegoers will probably ignore this movie while it’s in theaters and instead catch it on DVD where it will lose at least a good chunk of its magnificence. And that is a true tragedy. I give Winter’s Tale 5 out of 5 stars.