Saturday, 5 November 2016

NY Winter's Tale

After helming some TV episodes of genre series Fringe, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman’s first big-screen directing job is epic romantic fairytale, A NEW YORK WINTER’S TALE (aka: Winter’s Tale, 2014). “The sicker I become, the more clearly I can see that everything is connected by light” comes as the punch-line to an hallucination sequence that’s really just an excuse for the filmmaker’s overindulgence in CGI lens-flare. It establishes the literary standard and artistic tone for what follows, an urban fantasy spanning two centuries lofted, from its period setting of cod-Dickensian class distinctions to modern skyscrapers in the present, by Warner’s $60 million budget and the wonders of Hollywood star power-sharing.

Colin Farrell looks typecast (yet again!) as Irish thief Peter, who falls in love with consumptive redhead Bev (Jessica Brown Findlay, overplaying every scene), before her oh so tragic death leaves our charming amnesiac rogue alone with immortality, and a white horse flying on gossamer magic wings. At least he’s safe from the predation of chief demon Pearly (Russell Crowe), who eventually makes a deal with Lucifer (portrayed laughably by Will Smith), for a showdown with absentee nemesis Pete, while embracing mortal risks as the ultimate caveat emptor. William Hurt ambles through a somnambulistic supporting role as the doomed Bev’s concerned city-father Isaac Penn and, in the movie’s later chapters, Jennifer Connolly brings her patented single-motherly anguish routine to scenes with a young daughter dying from cancer.

Based on Mark Helprin’s allegedly un-cinematic novel, first published in 1983, Winter’s Tale flitters from page to screen with its Sleeping Beauty variant plot eschewing postmodernist cynicism, but accepting the conceits of similarly otherworldly/ legendary Fisher King motifs. “Miracles are down by half. More if you count Brooklyn,” reports warden Pearly, archenemy of luck and love. In the end, this is a rather predictable chore to get through, despite a few impressive visuals.

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