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Winter’s Tale

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
February 14, 2014 12:02 AM
3 Comments
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Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.

I shudder to think what Valentine’s date night will be like for couples who choose to see Winter’s Tale.

First, they will be asked to stretch credulity past the breaking point for the sake of a fantasy premise. Then they’ll have to figure out how Colin Farrell, who was born in 1895, is still alive in 2014. Acceptance of bad-guy Russell Crowe’s Irish accent and facial scar will be easy by comparison, though when the truth about his character is revealed it will be one more obstacle for anyone attempting to swallow this indigestible stew. Whimsy should never be as heavy-handed as this.

Jessica Brown-Findlay, late of Downton Abbey, is a winsome heroine in the 1916 portion of the story, and it’s nice to see Eva Marie Saint in a lovely cameo set in the present day. Other players (William Hurt, Graham Greene, Kevin Corrigan) come and go, while Jennifer Connelly shows up at the eleventh hour to introduce a last-minute story twist. There is also a surprise cameo by a famous actor that I won’t give away; if he’s lucky, few people will see this spectacularly odd performance.

Photo Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.

Winter’s Tale tests our patience by introducing an endless parade of half-baked ideas involving angels and demons, love and fate. The actors do their best, given a tedious script by first-time director Akiva Goldsman (who called on Crowe and Connelly, the costars of his Oscar-winner A Beautiful Mind, to participate in this project). The source novel by Mark Helprin runs 800 pages, but since it has a good reputation I must suppose the author provides more substance—and rewards for the reader—than this adaptation can muster.

To be clear, I enjoy a good fantasy and have a high tolerance for sentimentality in movies. This one just doesn’t have what it takes.

The only winter’s tale worth seeing right now is Frozen.

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3 Comments

  • Anonymous | February 16, 2014 1:32 PMReply

    This film may be bad, but "Frozen" was only mediocre at best. It is only considered good because it is being judged relative to the worst films made today, which are the worst movies of all time. (Also, when most people in the West go see an animated movie, they go into it with lower expectations since they consider animation to be just for kids.) Of course, Maltin knows what I am talking about when it comes to relativism and the lowering of standards, since he lowers his own bar year after year. Lol. He probably makes too much money though off his guides to stop now.

  • Juli DC | February 15, 2014 10:02 AMReply

    Mr. Maltin, I must repectfully disagree with your review of Winter's Tale. My husband and I did go see it on Valentine's Day and enjoyed it both the story adaptation and the acting quite a bit! The chemistry between Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown-Findlay is great. Actually the chemistry of Colin with every one in this film, including the horse is great! Russell Crowe is amazingly chilling and powerful as a bad guy, as is the "Judge"! Actually I found the casting of the Judge a brillant surprise. I also enjoyed the easy, occassionally comic banter between characters. I did feel that Jennifer Connelly's character and the character of Abby were sort of a last minute tack on to the rest of the story, and it isn't made clear what makes Abby so special in all of this. I was actually waiting for Jennifer Connelly's character to be more connected to what transpired earlier. I was also expecting some sort of confrontation between William Hurt's character and Colin Farrell's But overall I'd say while love can be tragic, and death comes to all of us sooner or later, I think this film will resonate with in anyone who want's to believe that soul exists and continues on after we depart this Earth.

  • Norm | February 14, 2014 3:51 PMReply

    Russell Crowe looks like he is ready for a remake of "A Clockwork Orange." The film sounds totally convoluted ,kinda like "Grease" meets Amityville Horror." Almost sounds interesting, at least film makers are taking chances ,albeit some really strange turns.

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