Winter’s Tale the movie, is the story of Javert from Les Miserables a.k.a. Russell Crowe, chasing after Colin Farrell (sorry, couldn’t think of any iconic role), who has fallen for Downton Abbey’s Lady Sybil a.k.a. Jessica Brown-Findlay.
At its best, it’s a fairy tale, which reminds us to love, because love begets love. At its worst, it’s a film that doesn’t make much sense to someone who hasn’t read Mark Helprin’s novel. I haven’t read it, so I spent the first few minutes going, “What, why, who?”
So many things in the plot and the way the characters behaved didn’t add up. But before I get into that, I have to mention the magic winged horse that I had a love-hate relationship with.
I love that horse because it always saves its master’s ass. I also hate it for the same reason: it kept saving Peter Lake’s (Collin Farrell’s) ass.
The magic horse, whose name is Athansor, first appears as Pearly Soames’ (Russell Crowe’s) “mafia goons” close in on Peter. Right when you think they’ll catch him and kill him, the magic horse appears and rescues Peter. When he needs to rescue Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay) and escape a kidnap plot, the horse takes them away from danger. Each time you think it’ll be over for Peter, whenever he’s on thin ice (literally), out comes Athansor. That’s what we referred to in Freshman English as deus ex machina. Or in simpler terms, a cop-out for stumped storytellers.
I suppose the horse always has to help because the humans in the film make silly decisions. In the beginning, Peter’s immigrant parents are denied entry to Ellis Island. While at sea and on their way to being deported, they drop a makeshift wooden boat into the harbor with their infant. Who does that? The threat of the infant drowning, getting eaten by predators or being taken away to the middle of ocean is very real. What kind of mother would allow that kind of separation?
Also, when Beverly meets Peter who is in the act of robbing her home, she treats him like an old friend. What does this teach girls? That it’s OK to harbor a criminal or trust a man if he looks like Colin Farrell or is artistahin?
One of the things people loved about Frozen was that Anna learned the folly of immediately being smitten by charming men.
Furthermore, fantasy doesn’t give you a license to pull things out of a hat and to not make sense. As we all learned from The Lego Movie, both structure and imagination are equally important.
The horse may have saved Peter Lake but I don’t think he’s going to save this movie.
Winter’s Tale opened on Thursday.