I knew absolutely nothing about the film Winter’s Tale when I sat down in the theatre. The title made me think of adventures in the snow, maybe some sweet story set in winter, but what I got was very different from expected. I think not knowing anything about it made it an experience I won’t forget, but I’m not sure that makes it a good movie.
The story, when I explained it simply, is a fairy-tale romance. A young orphaned thief falls in love with a dying girl. It turns out the evil forces of the universe (read demons and Satan) doesn’t want him to save her, because they’re all about destroying all the good in the world.
When I tried to explain the details, including which actors are playing the different roles, I got a reaction somewhere between skepticism and laughter. Colin Farrell plays the lover of Jessica Findley (Lady Sybil from Downton Abbey) and although the age-difference isn’t a stretch in Hollywood, it still felt odd compared to all the other supernatural romances with young, unknown, actors in them. Then we have Russell Crowe as an Irish gangster-boss/demon. And it’s all set in 1913, Brooklyn. Oh, and Will Smith is Satan. That’s when I lost most people.
Don’t get me wrong, all the actors do their best, and it looks like Will Smith is having a good time playing Lucifer himself. But some of the choices just feel weird, and I don’t know how seriously I’m suppose to take it. Like the fact that Satan dresses in modern clothes in early 20th century New York. Why? No reason other than we have to assume he exists out of time, and choses our time period as the best-dressed one.
Colin Farrell still looks disturbingly young, but the 42/24 age difference feels strange when the story looks like a young love fairy-tale. It’s almost like he’s parodying his earlier work.
The plot itself is also a bit odd if you’re not aware of the book. All through the film I thought it had to be based on a book, and sure enough, google set me straight right after. In every scene, you feel the lack of context and back-story. The world’s rules and factions are explained with throw-away lines, and although my fantasy-loving brain helped me fill in the blanks, this does not make a good movie.
Occasionally, the story was so sweet or strange that it keeps you entertained. There were some scenes I enjoyed a lot, and there is still undeniable appeal in Farrell’s soulful eyes. Unfortunately, the film insists on long speeches about our place in the universe and how everything that happens is meant to be, and that is something that my adult brain can not swallow. If only the film had taken itself less seriously, I know I would have loved the adventure.
If you’re a sucker for fairy-tales or Colin Farrell’s charm, I say watch it. It still doesn’t get more than a dice roll 3.