Winter's Tale is The Matrix wrapped in a mind altering bow for Valentine's Day. It's meant to make you question the reality of miracles, destiny, fate, and the transgressive power of love. In reality, you'll wish you had taken the blue pill, unless you appreciate the subtlety of an acid trip. Whether you want the experience or not, that doesn't change 's Neo moment: Hopping on a flying white horse to do his part in a battle against literal, biblical demons led by and as Lucifer himself.
The existential crisis starts when Farrell's character, Peter Loke, is dropped into the ocean as a child by his immigrant father, played by , in order to give him a chance at the American dream. His father probably didn't intend that his son would be raised by one of Satan's minions. Nevertheless, Peter Loke is a pretty standup guy, even if he is just a petty thief. And Farrell inhabits the role to the best of his ability with his perky eyebrows and longing brown eyes, especially when he immediately falls in love with Beverly Penn, played by , a woman dying from consumption. Farrell can play snarky as much as he can sincere, and I love him for it.
But I'm still confused as to whether or not he knows his father figure works for the Devil. Every potential revelation about life and the universe is just sort of treated with a nonchalance reserved for someone that's overly medicated to the point of zombification. Sure, I want to buy into Loke and Penn's love story, but it's hard to do that when Russell Crowe's face morphs into a demon or computerized lens flair illuminates the secrets around us. Unlike Neo, no one ever says, "Whoa," when literally everyone should be screaming at the top of their lungs.
I haven't read Mark Helprin's 700-page mythical novel, but it's safe to say he was able to cram a lot more of the philosophical ideas that this movie glosses over. I'm all for suspension of disbelief, but this movie crossed that threshold and barreled into the realm of the absurd. A good drinking game would be to pinpoint the exact moment that happens for you, and then just keep chugging. For me it was seeing Will Smith as the Devil doing an evil impersonation of himself from After Earth.
Just when I've accepted the fact that I'm getting a period piece about love and loss, I'm hit in the head with the idea that magic is real with a balls-to-the-wall Pegasus that gives Peter Parker a run for his money. It's more jarring than Loke finding himself in 2014 Manhattan, almost 100 years after Penn dies.
It's at this turning point where we realize that the movie is even going further by introducing as a food critic who discovers that Loke is older than her centenarian editor (who looks fabulous and not a day over 70). It's just not that big of a deal to her. "He found me," she says. Probably the biggest snafu this film makes is believing that a woman with a penthouse on 12th Street would believe a man with no form of ID and non-stylish bed head is the key to saving someone or something. I wasn't really sure what Loke was supposed to be doing until he did it.
Director 's intentions are obviously pure. The message that true love not only exists but can transcend time and space is a perfect message to share with someone you love. But as it is, this movie is a disaster. Like any great love affair, it'll have you asking how it happened in the first place once you've recovered.