Director: Akiva Goldsman

Writer: Akiva Goldsman

Cast: Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe, Jessica Findlay Brown and Jennifer Connolly

Studio: Warner Brothers

“Winter’s Tale” could’ve been great. Russell Crowe gets his role, while not breaking out of that turn of the century mold. Plus, Colin Farrell and Jessica Findlay Brown have chemistry. Unfortunately, the film was written by Akiva Goldsman. Adapting a 1983 romantic fantasy seemed to be too much for Goldsman, so he made this. A wonderfully set movie that balances complexity and fantasy elements with that of a child having a seizure in the middle of a China shop. The creative choices made in balancing casting choices with the need to convey a real fear of mortality was something that I never thought I’d see in a major studio release.

Many members of the online critical community have been speedy to unload on this film. I took my time, because I wasn’t sure of what I saw after the film ended. It is easy to bash Goldsman as the hack screenwriter du jour of the 90s and 00s. That being said, people can change. People should change. However, when you limp your way to an Oscar win and surround yourself with a creative mensch ala Ron Howard…you avoid harsh criticism. There’s no need to grow in a vacuum, as all you hear is praise for choices that never were your own. Poor Colin Farrell actually proved yet again that he is a strong lead, but he keeps picking these movies. You can tell throughout that tricky second act that Goldsman was lot while carving out a pre-set path for him.

What truly matters is that Akiva Goldsman knows how to work his rolodex to put together a hell of a cast. The synergy and political maneuvering to make that happen is truly astounding. Unfortunately, they don’t give awards for schmoozing. You just eventually get the Thalberg. I really don’t want to hate this film, but I’m at a loss for how to cover something that fails on every level. The search for gems in this turd is frustrating and that’s ultimately where you will end up by the end of the movie. That nagging sense that something good was there, but you’ll be damned if you could find it.

“Winter’s Tale” could’ve been saved, but it’s a work of gross writer indulgence. I support screenwriters and their effort to get their vision onscreen. But, there’s a reason why they don’t always translate over to successful directors. There’s so much extraneous claptrap weighing down what matters in this movie. I don’t want to keep dealing with Russell Crowe and Will Smith. I want to be entranced by Farrell and Brown’s love story. Stick to what matters!


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