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The Sun movie review: ‘Winter’s Tale’

Romantic fantasies are scarce, these days. I am thinking of movies like “The Notebook” and especially “Somewhere in Time.” These films have become modern classics, watched over and over again through the magic of DVDs by staunch fans of the genre.

“Winter’s Tale,” starring heartthrob Colin Farrell, seems to wants to join the ranks of these veteran tearjerkers. After a short while, it was evident this would not be the movie’s fate.

“Winter’s Tale” has all the elements of a gothic romance, plus an old-movie, costume drama. It has the renegade hunk, the consumptive wispy beauty (à la Camille), the forbidding father, a flying white horse and time travel – or is it reincarnation? That is never made clear.

As if that wasn’t enough, we also get Lucifer (Will Smith) and Hollywood’s latest go-to villain, Russell Crowe, as Satan’s emissary of sorts. Kind of sounds like a whole shelf of romance novels mixed in with those satanic thrillers that were once so popular, decades ago.

In fact, “Winter’s Tale” is based on a bestselling novel from 1983, by Mark Helprin. I learned from my research that Helprin’s book was very well received by critics, who called it powerful and magical. Would that this were true of the film version! The problem with this ridiculous movie is that it tries too hard and it fails as hard as it tries.

I won’t mince words. “Winter’s Tale” is preposterous.

Farrell plays a charming thief, Peter Lake; in movies only are thieves charming. He is caught robbing the mansion of a dying beauty (Jessica Brown Findlay). Of course, they fall in love. Even the father (William Hurt) approves. Hot on his heels is Crowe as Pearly Soames, the devil’s main man. Pearly? Don’t ask; I couldn’t tell you. I also can’t explain why he is after Peter.

This problem exists throughout the entire movie: all the whys and wherefores.

Then we have a flying white horse. Why? It has nothing to do with Pegasus. And the “special” effects for the flying horse aren’t so special. In fact, they are downright laughable. There are many moments of unintended hilarity in this overly earnest endeavor, involving the horse and Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m not kidding. Dunkin’ Donuts! Unabashed product placement? You bet your horse!

This tale takes us through the end of the 19th century, into the early part of the 20th century, and winds up in the 21st century.

In the muddy telling, there is something about how every person has a miracle in them and that they spend their lives looking for the opportunity to exercise that miracle. This miracle we all possess is one that will benefit others.

Gee, I wonder what my miracle is. Perhaps mine is to warn you to steer clear of this time-wasting tale, this winter.

Instead, stay home and warm yourself with a good time travel book like “The Time Machine” by Jules Verne. The movie version is pretty good, too.

With spring around the corner, you might want to avoid anything to do with winter, anyway. In this case, it would definitely be wise.

“Winter’s Tale” is currently playing in theaters.

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