Review: "Winter's Tale" is a Frivolous Fantasy That Ultimately Falls Flat

Michelle Douvris ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor

Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay in Winter's Tale. Photo Credit: David C. Lee/Warner Bros. Pictures.
Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay in Winter’s Tale. Photo Credit: David C. Lee/Warner Bros. Pictures.

Creating a hit fantasy film has always required a sort of tricky tightrope walk, and in today’s industry, the sheer volume of imaginative films has made it even more difficult to rise to the top and please audiences. While many movies manage to successfully transport film-goers into fantastical worlds, Winter’s Tale’s mystifying story line and far-fetched plot points contribute to a fantasy-romance that ultimately falls flat.

The chemistry between Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay in the two leading roles is noteworthy, but writer/director Akiva Goldsman steers away from making a decent romantic Valentine’s Day flick and opts for a winding tale featuring a randomly appearing winged horse, a cringe-worthy cameo by Will Smith as Lucifer, and a 107-year-old lady who existed as a result of the filmmakers’ inability to do some simple mental math after the story’s significant time jump.

Winter’s Tale is full of flaws, but the overall issue needing to be addressed is its level of believability. It is widely understood that one needs to suspend their disbelief to a certain degree when seeing a science fiction or fantasy film, but this one demanded too much from its audience. Every so often, a corny line of dialogue or strange visual effect would turn up and interrupt the established tone of a scene, bringing forth snickering amidst the audience and sometimes even flat-out laughter. The plot was also poorly introduced and weakly supported, with limited character backstory and a smattering of plot holes. It was difficult to become engaged in the story, which made it easy to laugh at the movie’s shortcomings instead of taking them in stride.

Jennifer Connelly and Colin Farrell in Winter's Tale. Photo Credit: David C. Lee/Warner Bros. Pictures.
Jennifer Connelly and Colin Farrell in Winter’s Tale. Photo Credit: David C. Lee/Warner Bros. Pictures.

On the bright side, the actors worked with what they were given and showed a fairly deep level of commitment to their roles. Colin Farrell gave Peter Lake a rugged quality complimented by a sense of good-guy compassion. Jessica Brown-Findlay had less screen time than what was marketed, but emitted an immediate likability that her Downton Abbey fans will probably gobble right up. Russell Crowe’s turn as the movie’s central villain was a bit over-the-top, but he deserves a pat on the back for making the best out of weak material. Jennifer Connelly also made an appearance in a supporting role, but her character served more as a catalyst than anything. There was little opportunity for her to showcase her talent.

Winter’s Tale ambitiously attempted to tell an epic story of love and destiny, but unfortunately its corny elements and messy structure kept it from lifting off and reaching its full potential. It may be enjoyable for those hopeless romantics out there, but save your ten bucks and wait for it to hit Netflix. You won’t be missing out in the meantime.

Overall Grade: C-

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