There’s some talent in this cast. It has four Oscar winners: William Hurt, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and On the Waterfront’s Eva Marie Saint. It has 2-time Oscar nominee Will Smith playing Lucifer. He won’t make anyone forget about Oscar winners Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson, and Robert De Niro, or Oscar nominees Harvey Keitel and Viggo Mortensen – all of whom have played the evil man downstairs. Oh, I almost forgot. It also has Colin Farrell, who should have been nominated for a few Oscars over the years (most notably for Cassandra’s Dream).
In a week where we get lots of remakes from the ‘80s, we also get some special effects that look like they were from that decade – a white horse with translucent wings that look just awful. This Winter’s Tale never quite takes flight.
It had all the makings of a good fantasy/romance (with the cast alone). Akiva Goldsman’s film is based on the 1983 Mark Helprin novel. It’s a story about a guy named Peter Lake (Farrell), whose parents are denied entry to the United States, so they put him on a little boat to sail into Ellis Island in the late 1800s. He ends up becoming a thief, but one with a heart of gold. I mean, he hears a little Brahms on the piano and stops in his tracks. Who can blame him? It’s being played by the gorgeous Jessica Brown Findlay (Downton Abbey).
Lake is on the run from Pearly Soames (Crowe). He’s a mobster that’s the devils right-hand man. Apparently you can’t stop working for Pearly, because the veins in his forehead, neck, and face…cause him to turn into the evil creature he is. Of course, Findlay falls for Lake, because…who wouldn’t be charmed by a burglar in your house holding a gun? Okay, some might give that a pass because she is dying from consumption (tuberculosis), and has never been kissed by a boy. Those two things might make you fall for the bad boy.
The premise of the plot is that each person has a miracle and Pearly tries to destroy them. Light plays a part of this, in a plot line that’s a tad confusing. Oh, and when good people die, they become stars in the sky.
The story jumps to modern day New York, where Lake is still obsessed with his love from 100 years earlier. He bumps into Virginia (Jennifer Connelly), who has a little red-haired daughter (McKayla Twiggs). Could this be his love reincarnated? What does it all mean? I won’t begin to spoil it, because I think many women out there are going to drool over these discoveries. It does open on Valentine’s Day so, men will score big if they take their women to see it.
The movie scores some points for wonderful cinematography by Caleb Deschanel, making the snow swept city gorgeous. He focused the lens on Jack Reacher, The Patriot, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. It’s just not enough to make me rave about Pearly Soames – Miracle Hunter (although Crowe does a nice job underplaying the villain).
This gets 2 stars out of 5.