Neither Fish Nor Fowl but Sometimes Foul
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown
Findlay, Russell Crowe,
Jennifer Connelly, William
Hurt, Will Smith, Eva Marie
Saint, Kevin Corrigan
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 118 minutes
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures/Time
Director: Akiva Goldsman
Executive Producer: Bruce Berman
Producer: Akiva Goldsman, Marc Platt,
Michael Tadross, Tony Allard
Writer: Akiva Goldsman
Address Comments To:Jeffrey L. Bewkes, CEO, Time Warner
Kevin Tsujihara, Chairman/CEO, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. (New Line Cinema)
Greg Silverman and Sue Kroll, President, Warner Bros. Pictures
4000 Warner Blvd.
Burbank, CA 91522-0001
Phone: (818) 954-6000; Website: www.movies.warnerbros.com
The first scenes tell how an emigrant couple and their baby are turned away from Ellis Island in 1895 because the husband has tuberculosis, called consumption in the movie. On the boat back to Europe, the couple puts their baby in a model sailboat they discover on the boat and let it sail back to the city.
Cut to 1916, and the orphaned baby has grown up to become a thief named Peter Lake. Played by Colin Farrell, Peter has a thick Irish brogue, and he’s being chased by a group of black-coated thugs led by a named Pearly Soames, played by Russell Crowe. In an alley, Peter comes across a mysterious white horse. He hops on the horse and escapes the thugs when the horse appears to sprout mystical wings and make an impossible leap.
The movie soon reveals that the villain Pearly Soames is not just a gangster but also a demon serving Lucifer. Peter used to work for Pearly as a thief, but decided to leave the gang. This has made Pearly very mad. He now wants to capture Peter, torture him, and kill him. First, however, Peter has to be found.
One day, while Peter is making his rounds as a two-bit thief, the white horse seems to want Peter to go into a fancy house nearby. Peter goes into the house and finds the safe, but he’s distracted by a beautiful young red-haired woman (who was introduced in a previous scene) playing a piano. The woman is Beverly Penn, and she’s suffering from a fatal case of tuberculosis. For both Peter and Beverly, it’s love at first sight, and Peter decides not to steal anything. However, he does admit to Beverly that he did come into her father’s house to steal things.
Beverly is set to go to her family’s country mansion down the Hudson River. Beverly needs the cold country air to stave off her fatal disease for as long as she can. She invites Peter to come. When Peter arrives, Beverly’s father grills Peter about his intentions toward Beverly. Peter admits he’s been a thief for most of his young life. He also admits he has no intentions for Beverly because they don’t know how much longer Beverly will live. However, Peter also confesses that he loves Beverly deeply.
One day, the mansion’s furnace almost blows up, killing everyone, but Peter saves the day because of his affinity for working on machines. This impresses the father, and he lets Peter stay, but lays down some ground rules. Of course, Peter and Beverly eventually break the ground rules and sleep together.
Meanwhile, the demon seeking to kill Peter uses his special powers to discover there’s a redhead in Peter’s life. He tracks Peter down to the mansion, but the rules in the battle between the demons and the angels, between good and evil, forbid the demon to go into that part of the Hudson River Valley. The demon hatches a plan to kill Beverly by using poison and force Peter to return to the city.
The stage is set for the rest of Beverly and Peter’s story. A narrator explains that each person gets to perform one miracle for one other person. The question is, will Peter be Beverly’s miracle, or will she be his?
WINTER’S TALE is a mystical fairy tale about good and evil, life and death, and the power of love. WINTER’S TALE has some entertaining, touching moments It is also boring, repetitious, predictable, and overlong. Finally, the worldview is not only mixed but also confusing. The movie speaks of God, Heaven, angels, and demons in some scenes. In one scene, there’s even a mention of “saints.” In other scenes, however, the movie talks about the Universe in a New Age, pantheistic, and even humanist sense. In fact, at one point, an American Indian man who became one of Peter’s foster parents when he was young tells Peter that the terms God and the Devil are just new words for ancient truths. Also, according to the movie’s theology, people who die and go to Heaven somehow become new stars in the sky. One of the goals of Lucifer and his demons in the movie is to stop so many people from becoming stars. In one scene, Pearly the demon tells Lucifer (who’s played by a goateed Will Smith in a truly bizarre role) that they’re losing the war between good and evil. He asks Lucifer to make him mortal so that he and his minions have no restrictions on chasing down Peter.
Though most of WINTER’S TALE takes place in the early 1900s, the story reaches its ultimate resolution in 2014 in New York City. A mystical event occurs that allows Peter to jump ahead into the future, but he’s lost most of his memory. Beverly has long since died, but Peter has one last task to perform. A vision of a red-haired female will help Peter find his ultimate destiny.
The filmmakers should have decided whether they wanted WINTER’S TALE to reflect a Christian worldview, a pagan worldview, or a humanist worldview. As it is, the movie’s story and worldview is too mixed up and confused to satisfy the people in any of those three camps. WINTER’S TALE is neither fish nor fowl, and some of its mysticism is actually rather foul. It also contains some foul language and intense violence, with some blood. Ultimately, however, it’s the movie’s confused, mixed worldview that makes it unacceptable and unsatisfying viewing, no matter your beliefs. This may not be the book’s fault, because, apparently, the movie has left out, or even changed, big portions of the original plot, including a few major characters that were left out, according to MOVIEGUIDE®’s research.
WINTER’S TALE has some entertaining, touching moments. However, it also becomes a bit boring and repetitious. Worse, the movie’s worldview is all over the place. Thus, despite some Christian references, the movie contains New Age, pagan elements. It also talks about the universe in a mystical way and sometimes even in a humanist way. WINTER’S TALE also contains some foul language and some intense violence. However, it’s WINTER’S TALE’s confused worldview that ultimately makes it unacceptable and unsatisfying, no matter what you believe.