UK Release Date: 21st February 2014
Runtime: 118 minutes
Director: Akiva Goldsman
Writer: Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Will Smith
Synopsis: When a thief falls for a wealthy heiress, she soon succumbs to illness and dies. Decades later, the thief is still alive, but what is he still around to do?
Never has a film suffered from a marketing campaign as unfocused as the one for A New York Winter’s Tale – confusingly known as simply Winter’s Tale everywhere else. Trailers never really made clear whether the film was a schmaltzy romance or an out-there fantasy.
Having seen the film though, it seems like this was less a marketing failure and more a case of a movie so incredibly weird that it’s impossible to sell it coherently.
Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) is a petty thief, on the run from mobster/bizarre hell demon Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe). He enters the beautiful home of Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay) with the intention of robbing the place, but he becomes intoxicated by her. When she dies of consumption, he is hit by grief and decades later, he is somehow still alive. It’s almost as if he still has something to do.
| "Give me a chance and you’ll melt all the snow in the world."
A New York Winter’s Tale certainly cannot be criticised for lacking ambition. Adapting a near 700-page fantasy novel about horses that are really dogs and a demonic enforcer could never have been an easy task. However, writer-director Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code) makes a bizarre decision – they play it all completely straight.
Goldsman’s script is awful. Just awful. Every character has lines that fall to the ground with a real clunk and the whole thing is packed with pseudo-romantic nothingness that adds absolutely nothing to the story.
It doesn’t help that Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay are a hopelessly generic screen couple. Farrell is the handsome, loveable rogue who seduces Brown Findlay’s prim, proper heiress with this caddish charm. Heard that one before? Thought so.
| "I’ve had no memory for as long as I can remember."
However, both Farrell and Brown Findlay, pale into insignificance when placed next to the remarkable performance at the centre of A New York Winter’s Tale. It’s truly mystifying to think that someone told Russell Crowe he could do an Irish accent. Fresh from nearly derailing Les Misérables, Crowe is hammy, over-the-top and completely terrible as Lucifer’s enforcer on Earth.
Yeah, Lucifer’s in it too. And he’s played by Will Smith. He’s also introduced with a copy of A Brief History of Time in his hand. This is the kind of nonsensical stupidity that so often plagues A New York Winter’s Tale.
It’s an awful film, which is over-inflated, infuriatingly clunky and completely lacking in any kind of wit or charm. Its only redeeming feature is that it’s one of the funniest films of the year so far… completely unintentionally.
Pop or Poop?
With A New York Winter’s Tale, Akiva Goldsman has dropped a real clunker. The film is risible nonsense, combining bizarre fantasy beats with generic romance.
The central performances range from the ridiculous to the ridiculous, with Russell Crowe’s accent channelling the leprechaun from The Simpsons. Seriously.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.