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UK title: A New York Winters Tale
dir-scr Akiva Goldsman
prd Akiva Goldsman, Marc Platt, Michael Tadross
with Colin Farrell, Jessica Brown Findlay, Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Eva Marie Saint, William Hurt, Graham Greene, Mckayla Twiggs, Ripley Sobo, Kevin Corrigan, Kevin Durand, Will Smith
release US 14.Feb.14, UK 21.Feb.14
14/US Warners 1h58
A magical romance: Brown Findlay and Farrell
R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
So serious that it's inadvertently funny, this film is desperate to capture a sense of wonder, yet filmmaker Goldsman jars us by shifting from magical romance to vicious violence. This leaves the actors trapped in limbo between two very different movies. And only the relentless cinematic manipulation manages to tug on our heartstrings.
Orphaned in 1895 Brooklyn, Peter (Farrell) is raised by a kindly man (Greene) and trained as a criminal by mob boss Pearly (Crowe). But after crossing Pearly, there's a price on his head. Then he finds a miraculous white horse that takes him into a series of surreal situations, including an intense love affair with fatally ill young socialite Beverly (Brown Findlay). Nearly a century later, Peter is still roaming around New York, now working with a journalist (Connelly) to figure out who he is and what his life means.
The story's supernatural layer emerges early on, with forces of good and evil trying to manipulate Peter. Director Goldsman condescends to the audience in every scene, unsubtly undermining any complexity the cast members try to inject. Fans of detailed performances will be annoyed by the over-planned camerawork, costumes, sets and effects. While the surging score by Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson-Wagner informs us exactly how we're supposed to feel at every moment: happy, sad, scared, swoony and so forth.
Farrell just about keeps his head above water, playing Peter convincingly from about 20 to 25 (Farrell is 38) while working to bridge the wistful, dramatic and grisly elements. Otherwise, Crowe is merely relentlessly evil, while Brown Findlay and Connelly struggle to bring their thin characters to life. Stronger side roles for Hurt and Saint have their moments, but Smith is frankly ridiculous in an extended cameo as Pearly's boss.
The story unfolds like a modern-day fairy tale, but Goldsman continually gets the tone wrong, focussing far too much on brutal violence when passionate connections are what give the film a bit of oomph. We only accept Pearly's relentless sense of vengeance and Peter and Beverly's romantic destiny because the movie repeatedly tells us to. So in the end, the only truly emotional scenes are between other characters entirely.
R E A D E R R E V I E W S||
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© 2014 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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