A New York Winter's Tale Review | The Movie Bit

A New York Winter's Tale Review

A prolific screenwriter, responsible for the scripts for The Client, A Time to Kill, A Beautiful Min...

A prolific screenwriter, responsible for the scripts for The Client, A Time to Kill, A Beautiful Mind, and The Da Vinci Code, Akiva Goldsman makes his directorial debut with A New York Winter's Tale, based on the acclaimed novel, Winter's Tale (the title for the movie in America), by Mark Helprin. A romantic fantasy spanning centuries, the story concerns Peter Lake (Colin Farrell), a burglar in 1900's New York who, on the run from demonic gangster Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe), falls for Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay). When tragedy strikes, Peter is thrust forward to present day, minus his memories, but knowing he has something important to fulfill. On paper, Winter's Tale is a modern day fairy tale that deserves every piece of praise heaped upon it. Sadly, this doesn't translate to the big screen, with A New York Winter's Tale falling at the first hurdle.

The movie's heart is in the right place, but it ladles on the sentimentality so much that the scale and magic of the novel is lost, leading to a slow and infinitely dumb story that stumbles through its 118 minute run time. It's shooting for epic, but most of the time, it's just ridiculous, taking itself far too seriously. The story lurches from story point to story point, making the early parts of the movie quite a chore to get through. The romance between Beverly and Peter rings hollow, not helped by zero chemistry on the part of Farrell and Brown Findlay, with far too much time spent on their awkward courtship. You never really feel invested in the characters, making their story not one worth rooting for.  The more fantastical elements of the story don't really fit well with the overall story. What is meant to be larger than life and magical, just comes off as predestrian, and, more often than not, totally preposterous. A clever third act twist does mix things up a bit, but it is far too little too late, and the final scenes descend into soppiness yet again.

For a romantic hero, Farrell comes off as far too bland, never really registering any emotion more than indifference. Brown Findley does try, Beverly is instantly likable, but, as I said before, there is no chemistry between her and Peter. And then there is Russell Crowe. As bland as Farrell is, Crowe is the far end of the scale, playing Soames as over the top as he can, topped off with one of the worst Irish accents in the history of cinema. Any menace he should have is totally negated the minute he opens his mouth. Will Smith, in an extended cameo, doesn't fare any better. Feeling very bored with the role, his scenes take you out of the movie more than anything, especially when you notice that he seems to be wearing Jimi Hendrix t-shirt in the 1900's.

Wanting to echo the epic and mythic scope of the novel, A New York Winter's Tale falls flat on every level, leading to a dull night at the cinema for everyone involved.


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