Based on the 1983 book by Mark Helprin, Winter’s Tale focuses on the energy of the universe and a battle between good and evil. All people have a miracle within them reserved specifically for one person, and it is their destiny to perform it. Collin Farrel plays Peter Lake, a common street thief who falls desperately for the beautiful (and conveniently wealthy) Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay). Lake, however, is not some ordinary street rat. After betraying the demonic lord he was raised by, Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), Lake is running for his life. Beverly and Peter’s love can’t be simple of course; she is dying of consumption and must be kept at a cool temperature to avoid the fever killing her. Pearly has a demonic vision and discovers that he must stop Peter from assisting a redhead and thus performing his miracle. However, the redhead he is trying to destroy might not be Beverly and with a little finagling with time, Lake is able to save a different generation.
The first thing you have to realize about this movie is that you cannot look for logic or answers. Once that’s in place, your brain will hurt a heck of a lot less. The concept works as a book. Within a book, there is room to maneuver, develop characters, and describe images that might just look stupid in live action. Heck, this concept may have even worked as a miniseries if given enough time and character work. However, due to the short confines of the film, ideas are shortened to the point where they are easily missed or misunderstood. Somehow the film is equally too short and too long. It’s too long to keep the attention of the audience and far too short to makes sense. Even worse is Beverly’s exposition of almost every scene where little to nothing is occurring. She explains energy, light, good and evil, but it commits the great sin of cinema; telling and not showing.
There is a reason Will Smith is uncredited in this film. I can’t imagine anyone willingly wanting to associate their name with either Lucifer or the poorly plotted portrayal in Winter’s Tale. The film jumps back and forth between wanting to be religious and wanting to be as secular as possible. Lucifer is called out by name, but the only glimpses we get of the other side are a white horse with wings and a pasty faced underling that agrees to help Pearly take out Beverly. We get a few images of Pearly pulling out his demon face and getting all chaotic.
Visually the film is stunning. Beverly’s costumes are Edwardian perfection and the coloration of the film is pleasing to the eye. The soundtrack is strong and romantic, swelling at all the right moments. Collin Farrell is even attractive and fun to look at. The film as a whole, just doesn’t work. If Downtown Abbey, Supernatural and The Fountain had an unplanned orgy and then a séance, their offspring would be Winter’s Tale. This movie will likely go over well with fans of Twilight and other films where romance is the key aspect and plot doesn’t matter.