Strange and Wonderful
How Iíve been longing for a movie like Winterís Tale! Yes, itís imperative to completely suspend disbelief while viewing this fairy tale for grown-ups -- but thatís a small price to pay for the privilege of watching such a powerful story unfold so beautifully -- despite its sometimes gritty and violent scenes of New York City in the 1890s.
Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) makes an impessive directing debut with this strange but wonderful film. Photographed by Caleb Deschanel (The Patriot), the movie comes across as magical realism at its best -- right up there with Panís Labyrinth and Intacto. Among elements adding to the movieís enchantment are compelling performances, a touching love story, thrilling background music, and suspenseful sequences involving a magical white horse. Frankly, this motion picture took my breath away!
Based on the novel by Mark Halpern, Winterís Tale follows the ďgood-vs-evilĒ conflict between Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) and Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe). Pearly, a demon disguised as a gangster, is irate because Peter -- a man he raised from a foundling -- has betrayed him by becoming concerned about others. When Pearly and his mob are about to capture Peter, a marvelous white horse appears and carries Peter to safety, then refuses to leave the front of a residence belonging to newspaper scion Isaac Penn (William Hurt).
Believing the place to be empty, Peter enters with intent to rob the safe. But instead he meets Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay), a gorgeous red-haired heiress dying from consumption. The moment Peter and Beverly meet, we see the special spark between them. And, of course, they fall in love. Peter then dedicates himself to Beverly, hoping he can save her with some kind of miracle. He also becomes an important confidante for Beverlyís young sister Willa (McKayla Twiggs, simply adorable here). All this does not sit well with Pearly.
Farrell and Findlay make a superb romantic couple on screen. They look soulfully at each other in a way that melts your heart. When tragedy strikes, Peter ends up with memory loss, and -- remember this is magical realism -- we meet him again in modern time searching for his identity and purpose. Is the miracle Peter wanted for Beverly needed by someone else? But guess what? Pearly is also still alive and angry as ever at Peter, so the brutal battle goes on.
Although the second half of Winterís Tale is not as riveting as the first part of the film, it contains some delightful surprises involving a valuable helper (Jennifer Connelly), her ill daughter (Ripley Soho), and an old friend (Eva Marie Saint).
I would be remiss not to say more about the splendid look of this movie. Happily, cinematographer Deschanel makes the most of wintry landscapes, moonlit nights, starry skies and period settings. Winterís Tale may not be the easiest film to follow, but itís one of the most visually stunning.
(Released by Warner Bros. and rated ďPG-13Ē by MPAA.)
For more information about Winterís Tale, go to the Internet Movie Data Base or Rotten Tomatoes website.