Winter's Tale (2014)

Out Now On-Demand

This Valentine's Day, believe in miracles.

Fantasy-romance spanning centuries, set in both 1916 and modern-day Manhattan. Colin Farrell is a burglar who falls for an heiress (Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay), who tragically dies in his arms. When he discovers the ability to reincarnate, he devotes himself to finding a way to reunite with his love.

Peter (Farrell) is a master thief who never expected to have his own heart stolen by the beautiful Beverly (Brown Findlay). But their love is star-crossed: she burns with a deadly form of consumption, and Peter has been marked for a violent death by his one-time mentor, the demonic Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe). Peter desperately tries to save his one true love, across time, against the forces of darkness. What Peter needs is a miracle, but only time will tell if he can find one. 

Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) makes his directorial debut adapting Mark Helprin's 1983 novel.

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Directed by

Written by

Drama, Fantasy, Romance

118mins

Rating: M Violence and sex scenes

USA

Official Site

This is a sweet, grown up fairy tale that begs to inspire wonder, but plummets back to earth just as it begins to grow wings. It stars Colin Farrell as Peter Lake, a petty thief in industrial-era New York who becomes an unwitting pawn in a celestial battle for souls. After robbing, then falling in love with, the doomed Beverly (Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown-Findlay), his demonic former employer Pearly Soames (a stocky Russell Crowe sporting an Irish brogue that borders on the satirical) tries to dispatch them both. With the help of a mysterious white horse, Peter survives to find that miraculously a hundred years have passed and he has become a bearded drifter with no memory of his past.

Brown-Findlay’s husky fragility is the highlight of this film, and fans of breathless Jane Austen-style romance will be charmed by their short love affair. But all too soon the satisfying fantasy of the second act is rather dashed by the melodrama of the third.

One can assume that Akiva Goldsman’s adaptation of Mark Helprin’s novel has failed the viewer somewhat, with key aspects such as Peter becoming immortal and amnesia-riddled, or Pearly’s obsession with Peter specifically, never fully explained.

In the end, the story is in such a rush to be told that a jumble sale of characters, cameos and concepts are shoehorned into a confusingly short amount of time. Farrell’s boyish charms are delightful in a way that seems fresh yet wholly native to the actor, however picking up the book itself may have resulted in a more satisfying (and less confusing) experience.

New York Times

press

Clumsy and inert, a lumbering white elephant rather than the flying white horse that is the novel's magical mascot.

Sydney Morning Herald

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It's pretty, with wintry white locations and settings, but made with an unrelentingly heightened atmosphere, every scene a climax drizzled with a treacly score.

Hollywood Reporter

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An ineffectual account of an eternal love.

Variety (USA)

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A cloying, sledgehammer-subtle adaptation of Mark Helprin's vastly richer novel.

Dissolve (USA)

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It’s a greeting card of film, full of platitudes and pleasant imagery, and destined to be thrown in a drawer and forgotten in short order.

Time Out New York

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Since this marks the directorial debut of Hollywood hack Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind), there’s a heavy foot applied to the era-skipping leaps made by source novelist Mark Helprin.

Multiple Tales

An interesting mix of different genres in one film and some great performances, especially the chemistry between Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay, some of the best between two romantic leads in a long time. But what ultimately lets the film down is that it doesn't seem to know what it wants to be, heading in one direction until near the end and then veering down a completely different path. Worth it for the performances (Crowe is at his crazy, villainous best), but the story leaves a bit wanting.


The Adult Fairy-tale.

A really sweet and nice movie that is easy to watch and straight to the point. The actors are fantastic and the film has just the right mix of romance and magic to create and adult friendly fairy tale. A great film that will leave you walking away feeling light and happy with a smile on your face.