Release Date: 21st February 2014
Running Time: 118 minutes
Director: Akiva Goldsman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russel Crowe, Jennifer Connelly
Winter is a special time of year. Magic is in the air. Miracles can happen. Or so Akiva Goldsman, scriptwriter of The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons, would have you believe in his latest project; A New York Winter’s Tale. Yes the man who brought the works of Dan Brown (complete with sky-diving priests) to the big screen is back. His latest effort is a passion project, adapting the Mark Helprin’s 1983 novel. It is a simple tale of love, flying horses, and a time-travelling Disney prince with life-saving kisses.
Colin Farrell is our hero Peter Lake, a caddish thief on the run from former employer Pearly (Russell Crowe, delivering the best Oirish accent since Robin Hood), when he crosses paths with the love of his life Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay). More than just star-crossed lovers, the relationship seems to anger the minions of the devil himself, who will stop at nothing to prevent their happiness from bringing joy to the world. It is a head-spinning concept, involving heavenly creatures and spanning multiple centuries. Helprin’s source material is certainly a dense tome to be drawing from, sadly what Goldsman pulls from it is as coherent as a drunkard after a four day pub crawl.
If there are any miracles to speak of here it is how the director manages to cram in scenes of pure insanity in-between the insipid love story. This is a film that opens with a young immigrant couple, having been refused entry into America, deciding to cast their new born son adrift on the choppy waves of the Hudson river in a model wooden ship rather than have him return to their homeland with them. A film where our heroine possesses a fever so intense that it melts the snow underfoot as she walks. And when Pearly consults with the mysterious Judge…well, best not to spoil the cameo, but it is almost as if we have wandered into an entirely different movie.
A New York Winter’s Tale is unquestionably a bad film, but it’s a special kind of bad. One of those peculiar offerings where jaws drop to the floor in sheer amazement of not only what is happening onscreen, but for the commitment shown by everyone involved. For all its faults, no-one can say the cast is not completely onboard as they spew out their inane chatter about soul-mates, demons and constellations. This dedication, along with moments of unintentional hilarity, makes for an entirely watchable, at times almost enjoyable experience. All the signs pointed to this being a hokey love story of unspeakable blandness. Instead it is a fun little train wreck. A minor miracle in itself.