Winter’s Tale 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.
‘Winter’s Tale’ Movie Times