Winters Tale posterWinter’s Tale is an okay chick flick that never quite finds its way. It’s part time travel, part fantasy, part drama, part romance. Sometimes sad, sometimes funny, sometimes very odd… like when a horse sprouts wings or Will Smith pops up as the devil.

Fans of the 1983 book by Mark Helprin will be shocked at how much the movie diverts from the lengthy novel. Many of the major characters from the book are changed, omitted or made into composites that don’t make much sense. Like why do so many of the characters affect various accents? And what’s with Colin Farrell’s hair? But I digress…

At its core, the movie is rather sweet. Colin Farrell plays Peter Lake, an orphan who grows up on the streets of a mystical New York City in the late 1800s. He makes his living as a burglar, though he’s also an expert mechanic. He spends much of his time on the run from some evil dude/demon/crime kingpin named Pearly (Russell Crowe). And he doesn’t seem to have much to live for – until he meets and falls in love with Beverly Penn (Jessica Brown Findlay of Downton Abbey fame), a young woman suffering from the dreaded ‘consumption’. She’s in a near-constant state of fever, but their romance heats up quickly… and then she dies. That’s not a spoiler. It’s in the trailer. The question is – what happens next? Basically, flash forward to 2014 and Peter Lake is still (or back) in New York City to fulfill his destiny, which may or may not lead back to Beverly.

Farrell and Findlay have a solid chemistry and the movie is at its best when they are together. But the rest of the time, it falls a bit flat. Despite the flying horse.

In a rare attempt to read some of the books being turned into movies this year, I actually did get about two-thirds of the way through the 800-page “Winter’s Tale”. But the book (like the movie) failed to fully engage, and I don’t think I’ll bother with the last 200 pages. After all, I got the message: life is short.

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