This review seems particularly appropriate today. It’s a romance, which fits perfectly for Valentine’s Day, and it takes place in winter, which is very apt considering all the polar vortexing that’s been going on lately.
Winter’s Tale tells the tale of a man who searches for the love of his life across the span of two lives. Does it deserve undying love, or should it be left out in the cold? Well, let’s take a look at the trailer and find out. (To follow along, click here.)
So who stars in this movie? Colin Farrell plays Peter Lake, the protagonist; previous films include Epic and Saving Mr. Banks. His love interest, Beverly Penn, is played by Downton Abbeys Jessica Brown Findlay. Russell Crowe portrays the villainous Pearly Soames, coming to the role from films such as Man of Steel, Gladiator, and A Beautiful Mind. His costar from that last film, Jennifer Connelly, plays Virginia Gamely; her other films include Labyrinth and Requiem for a Dream.
The writer and director is Akiva Goldsman, who makes this seem even more like an A Beautiful Mind reunion. In addition to that screenplay, he has written for The Da Vinci Code, Cinderella Man, Batman and Robin, Lost in Space, I, Robot, and I Am Legend. (Those last two may explain why Will Smith has a part in this movie.) I haven’t seen any of these movies, but the ones I know by reputation make me very worried about the one from this trailer. His directing experience is almost nonexistent, so I can’t say how that will affect the film.
The trailer begins with the ticking of a clock. Get it? Because time is one of the big themes in this movie. Symbolic enough for you? Peter Lake starts robbing a house, but apparently doesn’t have the sense to make sure no one’s inside before he starts, because he runs into Beverly. Beverly wants to know why he has a gun, and Peter calmly explains that he was stealing from her, but he’s not going to now. Well, of course not; it would be rude to steal someone’s things while they’re in the house. Beverly decides to be polite as well and offers him tea. Yes, let’s have tea with the complete stranger who is also a gun-toting burglar. What could possibly go wrong?
Peter goes on to tell Beverly that he’s mostly been stealing from an old employer lately, Russell Crowe. Crowe is taking this about as well as can be expected, saying, “I want to kill him, and I want him to stay dead.” Good grief, all he did was steal some money and a horse. That hardly warrants personal deadly vengeance. Next you’ll be hunting down some French thief who’s already served his time and has become a productive member of society. Back at tea, Bev asks, “What’s the best thing you’ve ever stolen?” “I’m beginning to think I haven’t stolen it yet,” Peter tells her. Get it? Because he’s going to steal her heart. Sweet enough for you?
Peter takes Bev to a dance, where he tells her, “You are impossibly beautiful.” What do you want to bet she’s been Photoshopped? But Bev’s father finds out about their relationship and, instead of being disturbed by the fact that his daughter is going out with a thief, tells Peter that she’s dying. I suppose the fact that she can leave ghostly handprints on mirrors is supposed to be proof of this, but honestly, it looks like something that should be in a horror movie trailer instead. “If you don’t love me now, no one ever will,” Bev tells Peter. Because I’ll be dead.
But Crowe is having none of it. He backs up Peter’s white horse while he rides on his black horse. Get it? Because he’s the bad guy. Black and white enough for … oh, forget it. Crowe says, “I’ve been blackening souls and crushing miracles for longer than I can remember.” Well, everyone needs a hobby. And apparently, that miracle-crushing involves doing vaguely magical things with moonlight, which doesn’t seem very villainous at all. Is he like the evil Blue Fairy or something?
Still, all that evil isn’t going to stop Peter and Bev from hopping into bed together. After all, if we don’t have a one-second sex scene in the trailer, who’s going to watch the movie? “Yours is the kind of love that makes the world warm and light,” Crowe says over their caressing and kissing. What love? All I’ve seen so far is a guy falling for a hot girl and a girl falling for a dangerous, exciting man and the two making out. That’s not love; it’s lust, it’s incredibly common, and it doesn’t make the world any warmer or brighter. But Crowe is convinced that Peter’s love will save Bev from death. So he pushes him off a bridge. Wow, this is going to be one short movie.
Oh, wait, no. Peter goes walking through a graveyard as the clock ticks again and the modern New York skyline pops up behind him. A black guy flips a coin, which I guess causes Peter to literally bump into a girl named Abby and her mother, Jennifer Connelly. Now, though, Peter’s gone in for the Jesus look with a long hair and beard, and he’s suffering from amnesia, unable to remember his name. “I’ve had no memory for as long as I can remember,” he says. I feel like I should make a joke about that, but I’m still trying to puzzle out the depths of that paradox. Naturally his memory would only go back as far as he can remember, but if he had no memory, would he be able to remember any length of time? Why would he even say a line like that? Forget it, I’m chalking it up to bad writing and moving on.
Anyway, Jennifer, for no real reason, takes in the complete stranger who can’t remember who he is and, for no real reason, shows him a picture of Beverly, which causes him to start crying. Of course, her name and face is the one memory he still has. Then the two find a picture of Peter and Beverly together. “What’s happening here?” Jennifer asks. I’m guessing she just realized she was stuck in a sappy romantic movie with sappy romantic pop songs blaring in the trailer.
Now that he’s made this great discovery, what is Peter going to do? Make chalk art on the sidewalk, of course, something that seems harmless enough until you realize it looks like both Beverly and Abby. If they turn out to be the same person, this could get awkward quickly. “Why keep me alive?” Peter asks. “Maybe there’s something you’re still meant to do,” Jennifer suggests. But if my daughter is involved, I’m calling the police. Oh, and by the way, Russell Crowe is apparently immortal, because that suit is definitely not from the early 20th Century. I would make a joke about what he’s saying, but his articulation has apparently gone the way of his singing voice.
“Is it possible to love someone so completely they simply can’t die?” Peter asks. The answer, of course, is no. Everyone you love will eventually die. Happy Valentine’s Day! But apparently, it is possible, because there’s Beverly telling him he’s late. The two kiss, the title flashes, and we hear Bev say, “You know, Peter, nothing happens that isn’t supposed to.” I would make a joke about that, but it would be in bad taste and probably start a comment war about life, God, and the nature of evil, so I’ll let you sort that one out on your own time.
So based on the trailer, do I recommend this movie? I don’t think it really matters, because you just saw the movie. Seriously, that’s the whole plot in two and a half minutes. Do you really need to sit through the whole two hour movie just to fill in a few blanks here or there? It seems like so many trailers give away far too much of the story before you ever get to the theater. For every one that shows just enough to peak your interest, like Frozen, there’s a dozen that give a whole rundown of the movie, like Paranoia, or at least the first act, like the latest trailer for The Amazing Spider-Man 2. I almost feel as though I don’t need to see the first half of this last movie because I know everything that’s going to happen in it.
And while we’re on the subject of pet peeves, why do so many trailers feel the need to put in a one second sex scene? I know sex sells and everything, but if you haven’t sold me on your story or your actors, taking the clothes off your characters isn’t going to make me watch your movie. It’s going to make me think you’re appealing to the lowest common denominator and you have nothing else to offer me, so why should I waste my time?
As to the movie, it’s written by the guy who wrote Batman and Robin, the man responsible for every stupid ice pun in that stupid, stupid movie. How do you think it’s going to be? Yes, Goldsman has written other things too, and I’m sure some of them are good, so maybe it has some potential (especially since he’s not responsible for the novel on which the movie is based). If you just want to watch a sappy romantic movie, go see it. But I’ll be staying home from this one and thanking God I don’t have a girlfriend to drag me to the theaters to see it. And possibly asking him for a girlfriend who would drag me to the theater to see Frozen.
Winter’s Tale is owned by Warner Bros.