Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Review: Winter's Tale

Release date: February 14, 2014
Running time: 118 minutes
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, Mckayla Twiggs
Who to see it with: Someone who wanted more romance in their Cloud Atlas


If I had reviewed Cloud Atlas, I would have said that although it didn't come together well in the end, I appreciated what it was trying to do. It took a risk, and it didn't fully pay off, but I liked it for trying. Winter's Tale is similar to Cloud Atlas, in that it tries to tell a grand story that spans multiple timelines. Also like that movie, it doesn't tell you that initially so it starts with a confusing premise and weaves in details here and there. Unfortunately, the movie is based off a fairly dense book, which leaves some aspects of the plot to be only briefly explored when you would hope for some more detail. The main character, Peter Lake, is played by Colin Farrell, who despite the poor story does an admirable job of winning your heart. If you've seen Saving Mr. Banks, you saw how great Colin Farrell is at playing a flawed, but ultimately good character. His portrayal of Peter Lake is similar and it's a joy to see; I really like him in these new roles.  

As I mentioned, the plot initially starts off with a confusing premise. I don't mind being forced to work to understand the story, but some of the plot elements are comical. And, unfortunately, a confusing plot is the least of the films problems. Winter's Tale just doesn't know what kind of movie it wants to be. It's advertised as a romance, so you have the typical predictable plot and cheesy dialog. The aforementioned cheese is pretty bad in some parts, with completely predictable and overly gushing dialog. But, there are also overarching themes of good and evil, heaven and hell, and the movie becomes strangely violent at times. This contradiction could have been interesting, but in the movie just feels awkward. Fittingly, there is a theme of light and dark throughout the film, but the light motif doesn't exactly work and becomes saturated after it's pointed out to you (numerous times). I imagine that some of the plot points are pulled from the novel and need a little more backstory to translate well on the big screen. And other parts the movie overtly tells you what's going on without you asking for it or needing it. As one fellow critic described it, it is opaque when it should be clear, and overt when it should be subtle. Unfortunately, aside from Farrell's great portrayal of Lake, Winter's Tale doesn't have much going for it. If you want to see Winter's Tale, you should at least wait until the Spring to see it on DVD, if ever.


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